Buying Time

By Amy Chavez
For The Bali Times

You don’t get the feeling insomnia is a problem in Indonesia. As a matter of fact, I’d say Indonesians have an over-ability to sleep. You often hear people exclaim “capek!” (I’m tired!) after a routine trip to the store and back. Part of it is, of course, the heat. Heat can sap your energy and even I sometimes feel so lazy I can’t even be bothered to walk down the street to buy the newspaper. Capek

But still, I wonder if it has less to do with the heat and more to do with the fact that somehow Indonesians have gotten more share of the world’s time. Evidence of it is everywhere: longer daylight hours (and no need for Daylight Savings Time), sleeping during the day, parents spending time with their children and a large proportion of the population just hanging out on the side of the road. In the West, such a blatant display of free time is illegal. It’s called loitering.

In Java, which has more time than even Bali, many people in the countryside work only four hours a day. That leaves them with a lot of extra time. The good thing is that as a result, very few things could be considered a waste of time.

In the West, I think everyone would agree that there are not enough hours in the day. Time is such a precious commodity that we even have books on time management, teaching us how to deal with our increasingly decreased amount of time. We say we can’t find the time to do this or that – we are clearly looking for more time – but in the West, the problem is that we have used up all our time.

Therefore, I think Indonesians should share some of their time. Much like carbon credits, time credits could be sold in various forms such as: Family Time, Free Time, Tea Time and Quality Time. If, for example, Indonesia moved to a 20-hour day, and sold to the West that extra four hours per day, we’d all get an extra 28 hours per week. That’s 112 hours per month! Finally, Indonesians would be able to use the phrase “time is money.” And Indonesia would be a very rich nation.

Of course, there would have to be some structural changes in the system to make sure Indonesians stayed honest to their pledge of letting us use these hours. It would require a change in the clocks, for example. Since Indonesians seem to sleep just as much during the day as at night, I would say we could just increase the speed at which the second hand moves between 10pm and 6am. That way, everybody, unknowingly, would lose four hours of sleep every night but still wake up at the same time in the morning.

And in the West, we would need a new clock that reflected the new 28-hour day. This would not be hard since time is merely a series of numbers from one to 12, written and arranged in a circle called a clock. Clocks are just a way of commercializing time so that clockmakers, who have a patent on time, can sell more goods. Now the clockmakers can use the clock as a tool to reshape people’s idea about time.

And the emphasis here is on reshape. I think we should challenge the current round shape of the clock, since they got it wrong in the first place. While the round shape was probably taken from the sundial, a triangular clock would have more effectively represented Western time, with three equal eight-hour intervals of the day: eight hours of work, eight hours off and eight hours of sleep. A proper triangular clock would start the day at the bottom corner, and when your eight hours of work was finished, the hand would round that sharp angle and head down the other side. A 28-hour clock would also justify such a shape.

But, you argue, 28 hours cannot be divided conveniently by the number three. True. Three nine hour intervals would add up to 27 hours. Therefore, I propose an isosceles triangle, with eight hours on two sides (for work and sleep) and one side of 12 hours.

This new clock would also simplify time. Just look how confusing time really is: Why is 2:15 a called “a quarter past two” but 2:20 isn’t “a third past two?” Why is 2:30 not “Thirty till three?” If 2:40 is also “Twenty till three, why can’t we say 2:20 is 40 till three?” It’s no wonder people have so much trouble managing time.

A 28-hour clock would force us to go to something more simple. Time should be seen more for what it really is – a unit of measurement. Time could be standardized into already familiar measurements. Such as metric. One millimeter would equal one second and one centimeter would equal one minute. One hour would be one meter. With larger amounts of time, we could measure it in something even simpler, such as liquid measurements: a bucket of time would equal one week. A fish tank, one year. A swimming pool, a lifetime. A pond, 200 years. The oceans would represent infinity.

Now, fathom that.

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The Island

One Response to “Buying Time”

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    […] The Bali Times added an interesting post today on Buying Time.Here’s a small reading:You don’t get the feeling insomnia is a problem in Indonesia. As a matter of fact, I’d say Indonesians have an over-ability to sleep. You often hear people exclaim “capek!” (I’m tired!) after a routine trip to the store and back. … […]