A second is the interval of a heart beat. If my heart will beat faster today because I fall in love or I have a job interview, does that mean I will be consuming more time than the others? And if time and space are an unbreakable duo, does this mean we are living in different worlds as well? While the clock shows the same hour for everybody, the perception of time is surely different for each and every individual. Consequently, it could be stated that time is to be found inside the being and not outside it.
I believe that Time is perceived differently in different cultural spaces, according to the paradigm that ‘reigns’ over a certain geographical space. By paradigm I hereby understand the main set of values and beliefs of a people, guiding their attitudes and behaviour towards all the aspects of life (on an everyday basis, but also concerning deeper philosophical issues). From this point of view, a strong difference that can be noticed is that between the East and the West. In other words, the opposition could be made between the rhythm of living, fast in the West and slow (slower) in the East. While the Eastern countries are adopting values and behaviour patterns from the West, I believe that they are also importing a new rhythm of living and a new conception regarding time with them.
Let us take Romania as an example. Its capital Bucharest could be said to be the city with the fastest rhythm of life. It is a big place, you need to move fast in order to get where you want. The traffic and the crowds, the noise and the pollution will also add pressure. The big city is the place where time is money. The more time you work, the more money you get. And in this period of transition, Romanians are valuing money more than everything else. After the period of confusion that followed the regime changes in 1989, it seems that people are figuring out what they want. A better life, where “better” means owning more of everything. Wishing to own more, people sink deeper and deeper into the consumerist values imported from wherever.
Money and status are strongly connected. The more money you have, the more respect you get, the more the power you benefit from. With some small exceptions, the income comes from the work you do. So for the people hungry for ownership, the job will eat their time. Almost all the young Romanian students wish for a job in a multinational corporation because this is where the good money comes from. Once they get there, they are so busy making time to do more that they forget they have no time for themselves.
Slowing down in Bucovina
It is interesting to notice the differences in the perception of time within a country. Still speaking about Romania, the example that comes to mind is the comparison between Bucharest and Suceava, a town from the north of the country, from the region called Bucovina. Suceava is a quiet town. It is not a God forgotten place, but a lot fewer things happen compared to the Bucharest environment. There are no big companies, no harsh competition between people in their race for a more important status. Consequently, peoples lives have a slower, more relaxed rhythm with less stress. One interesting aspect worthy of discussion is represented by religious values. While the churches in Bucharest are more often empty and the sermons attended by adults and older people, in Bucovina you will see the churches full on Sunday, with lots of teenagers and young people. While the Christian holidays have intensified their commercial aspect, becoming more of a show and an excuse to buy something, such as a souvenir, in the north they maintain much of their sacred dimension.
I believe that time has a strong sacred dimension (among other things, the calendar’s content is strongly connected to religious factors such as the birth and the resurrection of Christ). From this point of view, it is easy to understand the connections between the perception of time and the values that guide peoples lives in the example mentioned beforehand (Bucharest versus Suceava, Western countries versus Eastern countries). Finally, I would say that time is inside people and that the way you live each and every day is what you actually make out of it.
Raluca Mocrei is a Romanian photographer, currently living in Italy.