The Truth About Time by Keysha Whitaker

Image: “Warped Clock Face” by Gary Cycles

Time is infinite and finite.

It also doesn’t exist.

When I was five or six, my uncle, in his trademark wife beater and green factory pants, tried to teach me to tell time.

“What time is it?” He’d point to the white round clock on the wall over the stove in my grandmother’s yellow kitchen.

I stumbled. I stuttered.

“It’s a quarter to three,” he said, explaining the rules of the big hand and the little hand.

Nearly twenty years later, at a holiday gathering, I chatted about how quickly the year passed, a traditional New Year’s Eve conversation starter.

“You know,” my boyfriend’s brother said,  “Time doesn’t exist anyway.”

“What?” I said. “Time exists.”

“No, it doesn’t,” he said. “Think about it. It’s made up. Someone had to create it.”

Before I could finish another counterpoint, he continued.

“I know, it blew my mind a few years ago when this professor told me. It’s crazy right?”

And so there I stood, a moment in time that would forever change my perspective of how I measured anything and everything.

For years after, I scurried down my own philosophical rabbit hole.

This must be why sometimes a minute feels like ten or an hour can feel like a minute?

Neither exist.

Neither exist!

The only things that are real are feelings and thoughts.

Did certain feelings and thoughts and experiences make the “time” go by faster?’’

And what about eternity? Made up too for sure. A hunch? Educated guess?

So then, what of age?

If time does not exist, then surely age is immeasurable.

I mean, who says? Is a year, a year simply because we agree?

Therefore, I conclude, I am ageless.

But the physical body, it declines. Surely evidence of the passage of something?

I propose my own theories:  What if we believed we could live past 100? What if by defining or expecting the number of days and weeks we have, we’ve created a ticking time bomb?

These days, I’m not as obsessed as I had been.

But I still do find myself taking a minute (oh the irony) to remember that time is neither here nor there. A few seconds to reject the constructed and agreed upon reality that runs our lives.

In those moments, I think of one thing that is true.

Sunrises. Sunsets.

An infinite and finite number of sunrises and sunsets.



Keysha Whitaker is the creator and host of Behind the Prose, a podcast that deconstructs the work of contemporary authors, essayists, and journalists.



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