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Before Time Defeats Us

Beata works as a qualified primary school teacher, a councillor for drug and alcohol addiction and a farm caretaker for organic olive grow.

What kind of time systems and time cultures we want to have in ten thousands years?

But also in in hundred years or ten years?

But also in in hundred years or ten years?

Watching the time

The first flowers started to bloom

in city inner park while I furiously

made a second lap around it

watching the time

Nearly two years lasting lock down

eased again a bit

allowing citizens two hours of exercise

around the house

People could also gather

outside again

in a small group up to five

and socialise

My fellow indoor climber

overtook me on my path

checking her fitness watch

“I Heard our gym opens soon, see you there.”

“Don’t know if I find the time,” I winked at her

trying to catch up.

She laughed suddenly stopping to stretch:

“I see too busy preparing your next climb to Everest

or glacier peak in New Zealand?”

“Cut it off, will you?” I grimaced at my confident workmate

in a prestigious inner law firm we competed in

for a good salary and time off to pursue our travelling hobbies

in pre-covid better times.

She nodded frustrated herself: “Now I spend 24/7 on computer in my small inner apartment

on zoom and business deals while my first class climbing and hiking equipment rust away.

on zoom and business deals while my first class climbing and hiking equipment rust away.

I sighed while checking my watch.

“Did you notice, more time I have locked away

there is no time for anything to do anymore?”

She shrugged and sped off.

There was an old man coughing on a bench nearby.

“Are you ok?” I sat next to him while he wiped his dry mouth

with an old fashioned handkerchief: “Just been vaccinated.”

“I felt down a bit after my second shot too, it will pass.”

“An unusual wrist watch,” he remarked pointing at my golden

rimmed black dial with Germanic italic.

“My grandfather used to own an antique shop in Vienna

something to remind me of my family in Europe I can not visit anymore.”

“When I was eight my parents set up a business

making and restoring clocks in their home in Melbourne

He pointed at a small house across the deserted street

from long gone colonial era : “I still live there to this day.”

Suddenly he reached into his pocket

“My father made this hour glass

for me, I remember sitting in his

workshop listening to his timeless stories.”

“It looks very ancient and delicate, but I have

a similar plastic kitchen timer for cooking eggs.”

The old man smiled while showing me his saved screen on his mobile:

“My father had a replica of this 14th fresco in his workshop.”

I gazed at all kinds of figures bathing in sunlight

with a central woman figure holding a sunglass.

“She is the virtue of ‘temperance’, life lived carefully

in order not in excess, and this is the oldest depiction of sunglass in the world.”

I nodded suddenly curious what he was about to say.

“You see my father was born in Sienna and told me this fresco visible to everyone in public square used to encourage people in the 14th century to live better lives on earth.”

“Wait,” I interrupted him suddenly scrolling down on Instagram: “Look there is the same sunglass depicted on the Extinction Rebellion placard we made to remind people about our own doomed time.”

The old man smiled at me kindly: “Now I am this old bearded wrinkled man caring my own hourglass reminding you of passing of time,

my own death and the end of our lives that await for us all.”

I started to type furiously while explaining: “How we see our position in our universe? This is what urged us to start to measure time in the first place no?”

He nodded musing: “I remember my father telling me the time story

 of the first public sundial erected in 263 BC.

of the first public sundial erected in 263 BC.

Do you know it was a war trophy from a returning victorious general?

The first public sundial erected in 263 BC bore his name and was set up on a tall column to say all Romans who is in power.”

Suddenly the city clock announced the lunchtime and we looked at each other bursting in laughter.

“Nothing changed,” I winked at him: “The clocks are installed on tall columns, standing over the people they rule, they command us, no?”

The old man chuckled: “Well, the Roman citizenry complained back then as you do now as one remarked when I was a boy my stomach was the only sundial that told me when to eat and now I can not eat only after the sundial said so.”

I reached in my backpack and took out two apples and organic sugar free muesli bars: “We still have an half hour of allowed exercise time left.”

While munching in the warm sunshine I asked the old man what was the first clock ever made?

“The water clocks are over three and half thousands years old,” he responded cutting the apple with a small pocket knife keen to continue.

“My father told me about the Ottoman water clocks built in 1206 in today’s Turkey, twice as height of human being with astronomical planets and Zodiac sign in right speed and sun and moon moving in precise time.”

I looked at the man suddenly feeling the closeness of my fragile grandfather as I remembered him sitting in his dark shop full of golden watches: “I have this ancient book about the first mechanical clocks in medieval times in Europe but it is in German.”

An empty train whistled passing us by: “Didn’t know they are still running in lock down?” The old man shrugged: “Do you know It used be a case that time where you were was the local time according to sun but after railways started to be built, especially east west running railways the time in each station would differ?”

“Learnt it at school,” I smiled at him proudly: “Then telegraphs were built which allowed time to be transmitted at the speed of light through telegraphs wires as pulses of electricity.”

The old man patted me on the back while adding: “Time is not any more for us the rotation of the planets, time is not the orbiting of the sun because now we can make clock that are more accurate than the earth itself.”

“That is called progress yes?” I winked at him: “Especially for you, a member of the worshiped company of clock makers?”

He sighed suddenly wiping his sweat: “You know young lady I am not so certain anymore about that.”

“Why?” I asked surprised and he sighed again..

“The real mechanical clock built in Texas in 1999 can keep time for ten thousands years.."

“The real mechanical clock built in Texas in 1999 can keep time for ten thousands years.."

"Yes, the Texas clock can keep time for ten thousands years if properly maintained."

He nodded solemnly watching my astonishment: "But I hope then the idea of time and our progress through universe will be different to our idea of time today.”

“Of course will be, ten thousands years back our civilisation just started as we moved to farming.” I agreed.

The old man patted my hand and sighed again: “You know the question is not anymore about the technology to built the most precise time keeping but the real question is…”

I looked at my clock and jumped from our bench: “It is time to go back to our lock down burrows, sorry I forgot to ask you your name?”

He slowly stood up from the bench and pointed at his house: “You know where I live if you want to continue our conversation about the time, you know I have time.”

I was ready to leave when I turned around for the one last time: “What is the real question?”

He chuckled pleased that I asked: “As our future generation you should ask yourself, a re the clocks we have now, the effects those clocks have on us which is all to do with power and money and control and politics, is this the clock we want?”

I looked at him dumbfounded: “It is the only clock we know.”

He waved at me and before crossing the road to his house he added: “As a clock maker I can tell you only this, we can choose to make some course adjustments now that would make major affects in future, we could have very different time future in ten thousands years but that conversation really needs to start now…”

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