Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Big and little hands

I had another German lesson.I think I may have discovered the secret to happiness. It lies in the telling of the time. Some Germans, it would appear, do not tell the time as I do. If it was 9.30, they would say: "Es ist halb zehn". It is half way to ten. For 9.15, they say: "Es ist Viertel zehn" or It is a quarter of the way towards ten. That is to say they add an hour. If I could give myself more time in which I could accomplish more, I would be happier. Instead of thinking: "I have to do this work. I cannot play with the children." I would think: "I can do both." Happiness. Apparently, this is the way of going on in East and Southern Germany. I can only think people in East and Southern Germany are happier and get much more done than their compatriots. My handout is philosophical in its explanation: "...even before half past the hour it is quite common to think of the time in relation to the forthcoming hour. This is especially important with half past the hour where there is no choice." Quite so. Cometh the hour; cometh the man. Cometh another hour; cometh the happier man. Or woman. I think woman. Women tend to need more time. They have more to do in it. I am thinking what I could do with all that extra time; take up cross stitch, clean the bathroom, read a book, have another baby. Well, maybe not another baby. That might just kill me. Does it mean, I wonder that Germans are more forward looking? Is this the answer, not just to my time poverty problems, but to countries who spend too much time thinking of past glories rather than future happiness. We will speak differently of time and time will speak differently to us. It will say: "Draw up a rocker. Sit by me awhile. Let us drink coffee and talk of our future."


aminah said...

cheers for this post...the norwegians also tell the time in the same way: halv ni (half nine) is really 8.30...so you can imagine how many friends I stood up when I first moved here...but there you go...they are essentially looking forward to something...and letting go of 8 o'clock before the hour is up...hmmmm

Unknown said...

Sometimes it is goos to look back as much as it is forwards....

I sit beside the fire and think
of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies
in summers that have been;

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun
and wind upon my hair.

I sit beside the fire and think
of how the world will be
when winter comes without a spring
that I shall never see.

For still there are so many things
that I have never seen:
in every wood in every spring
there is a different green.

I sit beside the fire and think
of people long ago,
and people who will see a world
that I shall never know.

But all the while I sit and think
of times there were before,
I listen for returning feet
and voices at the door.
JRR Tolkien

Maybe we should take the time to do both and happiness will be in the middle.

Unknown said...

But what time do they use in North and West Germany ??

@themill said...

What work can possibly be more important than playing with your children? Work will be there long after the children have grown up and flown the coop - and then it won't matter which way the hour goes.

jim keltz said...

dear mrs o: have been reading your diary for some time now and thought you might be interested in seeing the blog of a bloke who changed his career by going south instead of north and was forced to leave his family behind until he was settled. things are looking up for him and I thought you might enjoy seeing how he coped. his blog is http://pubadventure.blogspot.com/

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Don't have another baby if you want more time. 4 babies = no more time.

Anonymous said...

I could explain how German time things really work -but I won't. Because I love you wifey and I want you to come away with me.

Gone said...

No this is no good you would be wishing your life away by looking forward to the next hour. Why can't it just be now, forget time.

Emma Lee-Potter said...

I love your blog and feel bereft if you don't post for a few days. I hated living in a tiny village in the north but now I've gone and bought a wreck in France - which will probably make the wilds of North Yorkshire seem tame in comparison. www.emmaleepotter.co.uk

Unknown said...

The ancient Greeks had two different words we translate with the single word "time." The first term, chronos, means time on the move. Time in this sense is dimensional, quantifiable; it can be "accounted for." Measurement distinguishes chronos. Time that cannot be measured is not chronos.

It is very important to measure chronos, to give it identifiable shape, to gain imaginative and rational control over it. Otherwise chronos is wild and destructive; not only dimensional; but readily demented.. The Greeks believed it ate its children.

In addition to chronos, however, the Greeks also spoke of time as a moment, time as occasion, time as qualitative rather than quantitative, time as significant rather than dimensional. This word for time is kairos. We don't measure kairos. We don't ask someone, "How much Christmas did you have?" We inquire, rather, "what sort of Christmas did you have?" With kairos we employ the category of quality.

We cannot measure kairos is because it is always “now”. “Now” is obviously indivisible; an instant is, so to speak, too brief to account for. By the time you stop to measure “now”, it is already gone. “Now” is punctuated by a swift, indecipherable passage from this to that. Furthermore, if we cannot measure “now, neither can we count it. It is futile, for example, and probably a threat to sanity, to ask how many “nows” there are in an hour. Unlike the past and the future, nonetheless, “now” really exists. Indeed, “now” is the only time that does exist. In the strictest sense, "there's no time like now."

To experience “now”, one must be alive. The dead know nothing of “now”. Therefore, “now”, the kairos, is an icon of eternal life of heaven. Indeed, eternal life is an everlasting “now”, which has no sequence, no before and after. Just now.

wife in the north said...

re mutley: can you say that in German?
re Jeff:If I have to learn Greek as well as German to understand my life, my head will go "Bang!"

James Higham said...

Now let's run this one by one more time. German lessons. Living in the North of England. Hmmm.