Keep No Time and Be Happy,
or Serve Time for Your Follies
A tribe that can’t keep time and a family that can’t keep it straight. Both existing in parallel worlds where one of our dearest tenets of living in society simply doesn’t apply.
One never knew a clock or a calendar. The other simply lacks a moral compass. Somewhere in between, there must be some commonality with what we consider the human experience. Or is there?
NO TIME TO SPARE
– “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye, I’m late!”
That’s what the White Rabbit says, in Walt Disney’s 1951 version of “Alice in Wonderland.” As it goes, the author Lewis Carroll worded it differently in the original story, but who has time to check that out?
The fact is that the concept of time, along with keeping date, or rather, being late and forgetting a certain anniversary on a regular basis, is one of our society’s most revealing values.
It serves as an element to judge character, it may help or sink our chances to move up on the social ladder, and brands with wrinkles and pains our ephemeral passage on this world.
Now scientists who studied the Amondawa tribe, a group of 150 people who live in the Amazon jungle of Brazil, discovered that they have no words for anything related to keeping time and instead, base their lifestyle on natural events, such as the seasons, the rain, the day and the night.
NO AGE TO COUNT
As with most indigenous communities still found in the wild, they live in a Stone Age era, hunting, fishing and farming for their subsistence. But what sets them apart is their unique lack of ways to mark the passage of time.
When a child grows to a certain stage, he or she sheds their birth name to a younger sibling and adopts a new one, which is a sign to indicate their state of life and position in society. No need to say, there’s no such thing as birthday celebrations for these people.
Numbers in their exclusive language go up only to four, which would be a stretch to the Replicants of Philip K. Dick’s Blade Runner story, the sad androids and their doomed quest to gain more time to live, but it’s a lifespan surpassed by most animals.
The Amondawa are living proof that time is not a concept innately ingrained in the human experience, but likely an acquired habit that needed to be learned in order to, say, make sure your spouse is coming straight home after work.
That’s probably what the team of researchers had in mind when they said that this tribe most likely “enjoys a certain freedom.” Ah, the scientists and their admirable sense of restrain.
NO SHAME TO REPORT
Restrain is a concept the Metterhausers, of Lower Macungie Township, Pennsylvania, have absolutely no idea about. At least, that’s what transpired at the son Trevor’s sentencing for drug and child pornography possession.
His dad, William, had come out of the house with a shotgun and fired at the cops who came to arrest Trevor. Thankfully, no one got hurt. The gun was but one among about 60 others found inside, along with thousands of child pornography images and nine pipe bombs and other explosives belonging to a friend of the family, Glenn Thompson.
Of course, everybody got arrested and sent to jail, including William’s ex-wife Rosetta, who pleaded guilty for drug paraphernalia possession (marijuana was also found). Talking about time, they all will have some to waste in prison. And in case you’re wondering what that’s got to do with the Amondawa and their happy existence without the notion of time, we have just one thing to add:
– “I’m late, I’m late, for a very important date. No time to say hello, goodbye, I’m late, I’m late, I’m late!”