The luxury of time


Time. A phenomenon as yet undecided, undeciphered, unreal. It exists as both a concept and a reality. Many physicists, mathematicians and philosophers have tried to unravel it, hypothesizing and postulating till the cows come home. But it remains an elusive illusion.

Time – nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once” – Physics Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg

I’ve talked previously about the luxury of space – the concept of space and the passing of time are irrevocably intertwined; one allows the other to exist in our minds as dimensions that make it possible for us to tangibly consider our presence in the world. Have I lost you yet? Stay with me – the topic of time itself is intricate and extreme, as even quantum physics fails to adequately explain it. In other words, it’s harder than rocket science.

The older I get the more I realise that the ultimate luxury is time” – Michael Kors

On a day to day level, we understand time as having a natural order, a flowing sequence where one thing happens after another but cannot happen before something that has already happened. And the Laws of Physics don’t help because the fact is, our experience of time just makes no sense. Time exists, that’s for sure, but how to describe it as an actuality is yet to be nailed down. It denies definition, yet we all know what time is. Dictionaries have it written as a ‘measured period during which an action, process or condition exists or continues’, but that in itself is problematic when we dissect the phrase – several of the words used are descriptions of time; period, during, continue. It’s a Pandora’s Box of seemingly infinite possibilities – does time have boundaries, even? Just as infinity is impossible to imagine, so too is the idea of time.

We only understand time within our own limitations; our time spent on this earth, how we spend our time, what little time we have, what to do with our time… We unconsciously measure our time through changes and actions, quantifiable representations of things happening around us and to us. But in Classical Mechanics, time is ‘something that passes uniformly regardless of whatever happens in this world’ (researchgate.net) – Newton and his theory of absolute space and absolute time. And yet, another esteemed scientist came up with the opposite – with the Special Theory of Relativity whereby time does not flow at a fixed rate. That scientist was Einstein, a name synonymous with being a genius, so was he right in saying that moving clocks appear to tick more slowly relative to stationary ones? Strangely, time is measured by motion but also is measurable through moving. I’ve lost you again, haven’t I? As I said in my last article, The Luxury of Space, ‘perhaps we’re moving so fast we don’t see the wood for the trees. It’s ironic that we have so many time-savers but so much less time’. But what has all this got to do with luxury holidays?

Well I was wondering about the concept of buying time, as if a theory can be a commodity. On a day to day basis we experience two sources of time; clocks and our own internal body clocks, our personal, psychological imagining of time passing. We measure our actions by the clock, use it to quantify (and therefore make tangible) the abstract. This is nothing new; sundials have been around for thousands of years, ancient Egyptians even using the passing of water through a stone vessel to measure time. It was the ancient Babylonians around 1800BC that divided up time into days, hours, minutes and seconds and it is amazing to think that that ancient concept has literally been written in stone ever since. Every single civilised human on the planet accepts the cutting up of time from that long ago. Crazy when you think too much about it. But time is a pretty crazy concept, as proven by our inability to properly define it.

Everyone who ever existed in the history of the world has measured time in one way or another, whether it be by the position of the stars or the sun, both of which are surprisingly accurate by today’s standards – no-one actually knows if each second counted by a clock was the same length of time as the last. And there’s no way of going back and checking!
We all experience time differently, what felt like a minute to one person might feel like nearer two to another. Time passing is subjective. So is it all in our heads?

Time is merely a feature of our memories and expectations” – Persian Philosopher Avicenna

There’s another theory, called relationalism, that states that time can only occur if change happens. It means that if everything were to stop; movement, growth, cellular activity, even thoughts – like a suspended animation event – then time would stop too, as it is just a measure of change. Perhaps that goes some way to explaining the phrase ‘time stood still’, used when a point in time seems to last forever, when you’re locked in moment until something changes to break the spell; a breath-taking view broken by a flapping seagull, a lover’s embrace quelled by a rain shower, waiting for the winner to be announced – these are moments when time seems to stretch, the world disappears around you and you hold your breath for an eternity.

Or at least that’s what it seems like to you in your moment. For everyone else around time passes as it always has. And that’s why we need to make time for…well, time. Time is a luxury we ill-afford ourselves when we should actually allow more time-outs from this busy world.

We don’t have the luxury of time. We spend more because of how we live, but it’s important to be with our family and friends” – Sara Blakely

We take time for granted, it’s a given, an ever-present infinite part of life, silently ticking away in the background as we go about our day. It’s a good idea not to overthink it as that can lead to serious existential dread – there’s a very scary infographic about how much time you get to spend with your parents in your lifetime (on average). Seeing the statistics in black and white really hammers it home how precious time spent together really is. If you want a reality check, visit the Wait But Why website – they visualise how many weeks you have in your life based on living to the ripe old age of 90. And it fits on an A4 page…

Once you’ve been thoroughly petrified at how short life is and how little time you have to spend with the people you love, you’ll start to realise what a luxury time can be.

Time and silence are the most luxurious things today” – Tom Ford

How does time change when you get away from the everyday? They say time flies when you’re having fun – presumably, as we’ve learnt above, because fun involves lots of activity, activity = change = time passing. But that kinda takes the magic out of it!

But we want to preserve time on holiday, savour every moment, make this precious break last as long as possible. It’s time to take a timeout, stop doing everything you usually do and really relax. Stop and stare at the world around you. Take a moment to appreciate the little things. Hunker down in a luxury place to stay and enjoy the wow factor. Enjoy the luxury of having time to be together.

The time you enjoy wasting, is not wasted time.

Katie Chown is Co-Creator of Where Oh Where. Where Oh Where is a new way of discovering your perfect place to stay in the UK, with luxury hideaways that go beyond glamping.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blogin order to raise your profile, please contact us.


Comments (15)

  1. Alex Coulen says:

    Time slips by so fast even when we live our lives to the fullest. Thank you for this wonderful insight.

    • Katie Chown says:

      Well in theory time moves faster the more we do, so that may explain it. We need a bit of balance – be busy making the most of life but still taking time to stop and appreciate it.
      Thanks for commenting :)

  2. Roger says:

    I love the quote from Michael Kors, “The older I get the more I realise that the ultimate luxury is time.”

    I don’t know much about the man except that he must be on a fair income as my wife frequently donates to his retirement fund every time she buys one of his rather expensive handbags.

    I doubt that he’s in the position of being a wage-slave where he has to sell his precious time to put a roof over his head and suffering from time-poverty like so many people who are sometimes working two or three jobs to make ends meet.

    I’ve been “retired” now for nearly five years but somehow those luxuriously long empty days of early retirement have become filled. Most of my retired friends have been surprised to be asked to return to their original jobs and also at the jobs they’ve been offered. It’s good to have choices as to how you fill your time but you certainly need to be careful not to fill your days with activities out of duty.

    • Katie Chown says:

      I guess Michael Kors is well-placed to comment having based his career on the commercial side of ‘luxury’ and in his old age is coming to realise what really matters to him. But yes, he is in a privileged position to do so. I hope you fill your days with enjoyable pursuits, Roger! Thanks for your insight.

  3. Bob says:

    You missed one of the great music quotes:
    “You can spend all your time making money
    You can spend all your love making time”

    It’s from The Eagles, the American band that all us Babyboomers loved so much. I may be wrong but I think their Greatest Hits album was the best selling album of the 20th Century.

    Once, an interviewer, asked Glenn Frey what the album “Hotel California” was about and he talked about the failure of the American Dream. And isn’t that all tied up with lack of time as we all go chasing impossible times?

    • Katie Chown says:

      Great quote, thanks Bob!
      ‘Time is money’ appears to have become more important than anything else, unfortunately.

  4. Caz says:

    This is such a fantastic post. I think part of the reason why I loved it so much is because it’s so relatable and I’ve been thinking increasingly about how fast time has gone. Looking back at 2019 feels surreal. I just don’t know where it went. I don’t think it was a case of ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ either. I think sometimes this can happen when we’re busy trying to be busy, while not being mindful and actually having life just pass us by without us really being present.

    I like the theories you’ve covered, like with how “time can only occur if change happens”. That’s an interesting one, especially when you think of the converse. Ie. no change, so time would be suspended, everything just hanging in place…

    Sometimes it does take a big life event to make us step back and get that perspective. Like a wake up call, something to remind us how precious life is and thus how precious time is, because it’s short and it’s not going to last forever.

    Really well done with this post, Katie. Perfect timing too for moving into a new year so we can value time more, to make us live life more meaningful and be more present.

    • Tim says:

      I totally agree with these comments. It is a thoughtful and very philosophical piece of writing. One of the things that fascinated me about travel is that where we go to, how we travel and what we do says as much about us as the places we visit. Certainly, scarcity of time is at the heart of much of our motivation for travelling.

    • Katie Chown says:

      Thanks so much Caz, I really enjoyed writing it. Am planning on moving on to mindfulness as a luxury concept so watch this space ;)

  5. Dwight Frazier says:

    A surprising post for a travel blog, but it’s a welcome bit of change. As the New Year has come, it’s made me very aware of what changes I need to make for this year so it can be better. And in hindsight, time is certainly one of the many things I have taken for granted in 2019. Whether I wasted it worrying too much, being lazy, holding grudges, etc. This post made me think that we all should treasure our time since time passed cannot be taken back. Great post. Very insightful.

    • Katie Chown says:

      Thank you Dwight, a fair few things have happened in my life to make me really appreciative of what little time we have on this planet. Here’s to 2020!

  6. Laura says:

    Really interesting and thought provoking – thank you. Made me think about the saying ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ which is particularly true when you are on holiday!

    • Katie Chown says:

      That saying is very relevant – thanks Laura! Catch 22 though – have fun and time fly, or sit around and preserve your time… hmmm!

  7. Daryl F. says:

    Everyone would agree that we cannot have everything in this world. Time is something that money cannot buy. It is a luxury that no man can afford when it runs out and the only thing that we can do is cherish it while is lasts. We can choose to use it wisely or we can waste it on something that we might regret for the rest of our lives. Therefore, we should not take it for granted and make the most out it.

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