Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Concepts of Time

By Natalie SWK 280
One of the culturally grounded concepts that the Social Work 280 class has discussed is time. The concept of time is something to which I hadn’t given much thought. I have always just assumed that time was continuous like a cycle. For me, time just seemed to be going around and around. As I got older, I started to dislike how America works around the clock. As they say, “Time is money!” When I began working at Caribou Coffee, I was always frazzled that time literally scheduled my day and I felt like an animal in a cage. As I began to mature, I realized that time is really just a form of organization to keep order. I also self-reflected and decided that time literally is. No one can place a label on it because it just is. Even if the sun sets and rises, the sun is still always shinning somewhere else in the world.
Furthermore, in relation to class, we discussed a culture in South America (Aymara) that actually places time on opposites. By opposites I mean that the past is actually the future, and the future is the past in contrary to popular western thought that time moves forward, and the past is in the back. The article, Backs to the Future by Inga Kiderra, shows that this culture shows the future as the past, and the past as the future. The future goes back as something one goes back into. This is really hard for my mind to wrap around. I can’t for the life of me try and figure out how the past is forward. I just think it’s really interesting that they perceive time primarily based on conditioning of the culture in which they were raised. Below, I have included a short poem I wrote in 2007 over frustration dealing with time. It was a period in my life where I was trying to move on past some old friends who were trying to hold me back. This poem just really shows my firm belief that time is never-ending and never stops, just because it is.

Ticking Clocks

Time; far off in the distance,
Old memories fade into nonexistence,
People, Places, Friends constantly change.
One never ending cycle,
Never stopping,
So why should I?

Kiderra, Inga. “Backs to the Future: Aymara Language and Gesture Point to Mirror-Image View of Time.” June 12, 2006. .


  1. wow, i think the poem is beautiful. Thank you for sharing Natalie. It must be a Culture type A thing that makes us think of time the way we do. I constantly feel i am running everywhere i go and that there is never enough time in the day. i know my schedule weeks in advance and leave very little time to relax and reflect- something i believe Eastern cultures value more. It's important to have a good understanding of out client's interpretation of time and realize that it may be different than our own. I value punctuality, but others may not even wear a watch or care about their time of arrival, not because they wish to be disrespectful or rude, but because of cultural norms.

  2. Someone once told me that "today is tomorrow as tomorrow is today". I still can't wrap my mind around that saying but I was reminded of the saying when I read your blog. Time is constantly ticking and on one side of the world. It may be day on the eastern hemisphere and night in the western. Time is important to understand in the sense that not everyone sees time the same. Some cultures do value punctuality or linear time more than others. Nancy mentioned in class that some cultures go off how their ancestors decided to value time. When does the sun rise, time to work! When does the sun set, Time to go to bed! Work can only been done during that time, Right? Not in America. Everything is fast paced where everything goes a mile a minute. Most people in our culture appreciate that method but like you, I am one who enjoys a more relaxed value of time.

  3. ABove my comments! forgot to sign my name!