Measuring Time Without a Planet to Stand On

Imagine, if you will, a civilization of people who are born, live and die on a spaceship. Far, far, far back in their history there may have been a planet where their species originated but they have been on this spaceship so long, no one knows what day and night are. No one knows there are seasons or any kind of weather or climate at all. They don’t land on other planets, their culture has grown to fear any natural environment with their contagious diseases, dangerous and unpredictable plants and animals. The life they know is on the spaceship and the ship has everything they need.

How would these people measure time? Not so much the passing moments. They could measure time – the passing of seconds – in their heartbeats or the amount of breaths they take. How would they measure longer time periods without marking the time when one day turns into another? On a spaceship there would be an endless day. The best they could do would be marking days by taking shifts at work, and then the time they sleep. There would be no seasons. No way of accounting for years, as we measure them.

If time were all measured as just a quota, wouldn’t you miss measuring time by seasons, the sun and moon? Our measurements for time are almost poetry compared to the plain measurement of just counting how many shifts you had at work. Wouldn’t it be sad if they measured time by how many generations of their family had died, how many Grandmothers and Grandfathers they have? We think about ourselves by generations. Pagans think of it as the young woman, the Mother and the crone.

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