Thursday, 11 February 2021

Time - is it real or an illusion?

Time is important to me. I have surrounded myself with clocks, watches and digital time displays to satisfy my constant need for that all-important time check. But is time real or is it an illusion? Scientists claim they can now measure time with a device so accurate that it would lose no more than a second over a period of a million years and yet I have read articles claiming that time is an illusion, nothing more than 'a complex network of events onto which we project sequences of past, present and future', a theory expounded by Carlo Rovelli. If I think about his theory too much it freaks me out.

The physicist, Professor Brian Cox, (who also freaks me out when he talks about the infinite, eternal universe) has devoted a number of episodes of his radio programme 'The Infinite Monkey Cage' to a discussion about time. It was while listening to one of these episodes that I got the inspiration for this poem:


What do scientists know?
They say that our brain takes time to process
what our eyes perceive, so when I look at your face
what I see has gone, only milliseconds gone,
but gone for sure.

They say they can measure time accurately.
They pat their collective backs at their progress
from the hourglass trickling sand,
to the oscillating pendulum
to the precision of the atomic clock

but they can't explain time's elasticity,
how an hour passes in a second when you're here,
an hour lasts a day when you go away
and how the memory of your touch
can stretch time into infinity.

What is your perception of time? Reality? Illusion? Or is there just not enough of it for you to allow yourself to sit and ponder such questions? 


  1. excellent poem and indeed the time/memory continuum is a concept on its own. Dreams make time an illusion too - back and forth, sometimes in the same scene. It's like a Christopher Nolan film.
    P.S. I do like watches and have a small (not expensive) collection
    P.S.S. Enjoy your time this weekend....

    1. Thanks Joanne. Dreams are an interesting take on the subject of time and reality. A collection of watches sounds fun. I have two watches (not expensive) and thought I was being extravagant!
      Hope you had a good weekend. Saw your Valentine eats on FB!

  2. Enjoyed your poem. Haven't worn my watch for months and the days, weeks and months are coming round faster than ever. Could be the pandemic or just my age!

    1. Thanks Linda. I did try going watchless but I became paranoid, constantly glancing at my bare arm and anxiously seeking out the nearest digital display. I just need to know for no real reason whatsoever! I think the pandemic is doing strange things to our concept of time. Days stretch and shrink and have lost their names and purpose. Hope we can soon emerge. We'll be like little chrysalises!

  3. Love it - thank you, feel like time is suspended right now. Flowing through the days but has any time really passed ?

    1. It's strange, I agree. I haven't a clue what day it is!!

  4. Oh Ros, I love your poem. That's beautiful! And so come time is so very elastic when it can be measured so accurately?


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