Being Time in Kenya with Heidegger

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The concept of time is fascinating. From physics to philosophy, the notion of time is difficult to define.

From our normal existence in the world, we often define time as ‘fleeting’ in the sense there is never enough. Frustration builds as the majority of time is spent catching up on work…work that is always running further and further away.

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The more worry about time, the less there is.

This has been the script for me this year.  Just as I am ready to celebrate and enjoy autumn, this great season is fading fast.

Back in September, I noticed the leaves turning color. But instead of picking up my coat and heading out, I dropped my head for a quick analysis of work and business only to look up a couple of months later to find winter staring me in the face.

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Pushing open the window, a gust of cold wind sends my work flying and a bunch of dry leaves swirling at my feet.

Where did time go?

With my work and leaves lying scattered at my feet, I realized I lost the best season of the year.

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Autumn is usually the season when time slows down.  Time to take in nature, people and the simple appreciation of life.

Hunting, fishing, football, photography, cycling or spending time on Hood Canal with family and friends; not existing in time, but actually “being time”.

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The thought of “being time” is refreshing: to reflect on memories, create new memories and actively live and project our expectations of the future in ‘the now’ the moment when time stands still. This is what autumn has always provided.

To be with somebody, to be somewhere, to be doing something you love…these are the moments, a perfect understanding of our place in time, space and the universe.

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Being Time, this is a feeling I envy right now. Sitting on the floor, sorting my papers…seeing nothing but incoherent words and riddles on these sheets of white reflecting past months of work, my eyes fall to a wooden carving I picked up in Kenya many years ago.

Autumn. Kenya. The trip when I first began defining time in a different manner.

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Prior to leaving for the Kenyan city of Nairobi, I was out with friends and they all talked about the culture shock that I would experience, jumping from the modern city of Hong Kong to the much less developed world of the Maasai Mara.

There was some truth to that, jumping into the life of Nairobi was something different, but once into the countryside time slowed down and I synchronized with the culture around me. It was as if I had returned to a forgotten home. Being where I should be. Feeling alive.

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As it turned out, I did experience culture shock, but it happened upon returning from Kenya to the modern world.

Back in the USA, amid the muck of company politics, petty jealousies and listening to the linear definition of time: the loud tick-tock of the clock signaling life is growing shorter.

Fortunately, I kept the rhythm I had found in Kenya and fell into a groove back in Seattle and later Hong Kong. Good friends, good work and listening to how time flowed naturally, rather than how it was measured on the clock made the days mine.

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This ‘Kenyan groove’ took me back to my college days where my roommate, who was a brilliant philosophy major, introduced me to the works of German philosopher, Martin Heidegger.

It took Kenya for me to fully ‘get’ what Heidegger was saying, but he was correct: “we do not exist inside time, we are time.”

The only time we have is now, this nano-second of the present to live, where all we were and will be is defined within this perfect moment to shine. As Heidegger called it: “the moment of vision”

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This concept of time is one of many theories, and helps me define the idea of being lost in a moment and having time stand still. Time is not this one-way sequential path to the end: a tick-tock of doom.

Time, instead, allows us to relive memories, actively experience and create expectations and dreams with which we float between the past, present and future. As silly as it sounds, time becomes what we want to be.

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When I am lost in a daydream…or when a beautiful girl shyly smiles and nods her head, a sensation is created that alters time. It brings into play another dimension I could not begin to define, other than a perfect, subjective component of time that I would not change for the world.

Everything stops and goes, and I want to embrace all that I can get my arms around. Time simply does not exist in linear terms at these moments. It is emotional; the mind can run free, open up memories and take me places I can only dream. In a sense, I am manipulating time. I can do no wrong.

Kenya Maasai Mara Africa-23Kenya provided an important piece in defining time and its place in nature for me. Time is what you make of it and it only blooms with loyalty and honesty to yourself, to family, to friends and to your work. In this sense, it is the simple philosophy of nature.

There may not be a better place to appreciate time, autumn or nature than in my hometown of Pendleton, Oregon.

Autumn in Pendleton means the end of the harvest season, the beauty of putting in a hard day’s work. You look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day, and see the dirt and character: badges of honor, to be worn proudly.

Kenya Maasai Mara Africa-10Pendleton, too, reminds me of Kenya…a place where standing out on the plains as the morning breaks, time stands still. Silence along with the electricity of the day that makes me aware I am flowing as one with time.

Time waits for no one, so to understand its value and embrace it for the potential it holds is key: the “moment of vision”.

Kenya Maasai Mara Africa-5And as I continue to stare out my window, smiling with my thoughts of Kenya, Pendleton and Heidegger, I am reminded of a quote from one of my favorite philosophers, Dr. Seuss:

“How did it get so late so soon?  It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?”

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Pre-Dawn Coffee ~ Best Campsite I've Experienced :-)

Pre-Dawn Coffee ~ Best Campsite I’ve Experienced 🙂


490 Comments on “Being Time in Kenya with Heidegger

  1. I was at a Wellcome lecture recently and the lecturer said: ‘….time is a physical entity’ – and when I asked him to explain that he said ‘ We can measure it’.

    • Not too surprised to have an academic take a quantitative view of the concept of time 🙂 Cheers…

  2. Pingback: On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me…time. | The Basement of Time

  3. Beautifully written about an interesting topic. Love the photos!

  4. It’s quite mind-bending to think about time. And I love doing just that from time to time. You see, I have a son whose brain has struggled to understand the sequential passage of time the way mine does. He is so very “right-brained” that he most often lives in the moment. Not a moment ago, but right now. What tickles me is that so many adults spend a lot of time trying to live in the moment, trying to be more present, and that is where my son exists. Absolutely lovely photos.

    • Time and how we view it really does set each of us apart ~ I think that everyone wants to live for the moment, but cannot. While I think those rare minds who always live for the moment, as challenging as I assume it may be, is a gift. Thank you and wish you very well in this new year!

  5. Really enjoyed reading your thoughts and also your fantastic images! I don’t think it’s very original but I’ve always appreciated the way photographing freezes a moment in time… And it becomes so easy to revisit a moment. 🙂

  6. I loved this blog, thank you for your writing!

  7. Wow! Lovely photos, wonderful thoughts and nice write up, all put together so well. Fabulous. And you hit home well with Dr. Seuss.

  8. These pictures are incredible. I feel so nostalgic of my trips to Kenya! Glad you enjoyed yourself!

    • Kenya was truly unbelievable and it sounds like you have had some beautiful adventures yourself…safe travels!

  9. being time is living in a moment that is constantly changing into another time
    where memories are the sand slipping within the hourglass,
    I always want to know how many grains of sand are in an hour glass, but if I were to know
    the answer I would not be still long enough to watch the sand falling like sparks against the glass
    ( I have been told I like sparkly things, not diamonds LOLs, I love crystals 🙂 )
    I don’t wear a watch, I zap them, so I figured this lifetime I am here to observe with no need for the
    constraints of watching a clock, I seem to always arrive where I am suppose to

    as your words spill from the images they seem to have wings…taking me on an adventure
    through your thoughts within your sight….you have amazing experiences I should think, what a gift
    to bring color to them for us to read…
    Thank you once again for giving me images to smile with and words to ponder if I should add yet another place on
    my bucket list
    Take Care…You Matter..

    • Thank you MaryRose, your description of time is nice, “memories are the sands slipping within the hourglass”… One important piece of our life, as is what we project for the future and most what we have right now in the present. It is nice to make life an adventure, full of great things and great people to enjoy. Cheers!

  10. Time. So elusive. I swear it speeds up and slows down. Thankyou for your reflections and brilliant photos. I really loved the flying flamingos! Amazing! I am new to pro photography but aim to take a shot like that! Thanks 🙂 xx

  11. Pingback: Slowing Down the Perception of Time | China Sojourns Photography

  12. Simply gorgeous post. A poem in prose, your words. To me, it almost sounded like a song.

    “The only time we have is now, this nano-second of the present to live, where all we were and will be is defined within this perfect moment to shine.”
    “Everything stops and goes, and I want to embrace all that I can get my arms around. Time simply does not exist in linear terms at these moments. It is emotional; the mind can run free, open up memories and take me places I can only dream.”
    “Silence along with the electricity of the day that makes me aware I am flowing as one with time.”

    And the photographs.. the refrain, only slightly changing colors and light. “Moments of vision..” 🙂 I just loved the one with the sweet-looking bird. Now I am so happy to have read Being Time in Kenya.. It made me realize that.. being time is ..being free. Thank you, Dalo.

    • Thank you very much Nicole ~ I still like to think back to Kenya and how much I enjoyed just being there; with the land, people and time feeling like it was standing still. I’ve always been a bit fascinated by the physics of time and now see it more than ever as pieces of time. I suppose I still think time flows, but I suppose it is in the same sense as you feel being time is being free. That sums it up perfectly ~ so thank you again!

  13. Dalo, I hope this gets to you. Thanks for your comment on my post Sea-scapades: Part One. You described my experience so well – particularly the lessons of aging. Today I edited my Haiku so when I tried to respond to your comment the post was no longer showing on my blog. It is back now with the edits. 🙂

    • From your words I could feel and imagine it as if I was there 🙂 The smiles that come with the Joys of Family and occasionally also with the Joys of Aging 🙂

  14. Amazing photography… I could so relate to this post, and the musings about time. I feel it´s being in the Flow-state, when the boundaries that we might normally feel around time dissolve, and we become one with it, and one with what we are dedicating our focus to in that moment… I need to reread Heidegger´s concepts you introduced here, I´ve always found the question “What is time?” so very fascinating. Have you heard of Miguel de Unamuno? He was a Spanish writer who stated ” Hay que abitar el tiempo” – which could be translated to “One needs to fully embody time/ really appreciate it fully”. I´ve tried to live accordingly ever since I heard that quote. Also, stoked you mentioned Dr. Seuss, he is one of my favorites as well (“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” – love that 🙂 Thanks for another meaningful and thought-provoking post 🙂

    • Perfect timing on bringing this post back to lie 🙂 Autumn always has me feeling a bit more aware of the ‘timelessness of time’ and enjoying the incredible moments of the now. The Miguel de Unamuno is a perfect reminder, to fully embody time – to surrender to the present is a gift, which can be so difficult at times. I’ve got to get to studying some Spanish, the quote “Hay que abitar el tiempo” is beautiful… And for Dr. Seuss, one of the premier philosophers of our time 🙂 The quote you mention is one I’ve heard since my graduation from High School and I take to heart. Cheers to a great day, Maria Elena, enjoy.

      • Yes, I feel ya! Autumn is my favorite season – a great time for contemplation and going within. Isn´t it beautiful when we get to glimpse the beauty of eternity beyond our habitual notions of time…those are precious moments indeed. And you are right, it´s not always an easy undertaking to surrender to the present moment and escape the thought-tricksters for a while 🙂 So sorry, spelling error – “Hay que habitar el tiempo”…. better start you off with Spanish learning in an orderly way, haha. It´s beautiful that you have kept that magnificent quote by Dr. Seuss alive in your heart. It´s such a great and wise reminder. Cheers, Randall, enjoy your day, and really lovely to be connected 🙂

  15. I have read it in the perfect moment. Thank you, Randall. In Aymara the word for both eye and past is nayra, as the past is something you can see, and the closer to you the clearer, the word for future is qhipa and also means back, because we cannot see the future. I like your time in Kenya, it made me recall some fragment I always loved in a tale of Borges: “He entered the room. The cat was there, sleeping. He asked for a cup of coffee, he sweetened it slowly; he tasted it (that pleasure had been forbidden to him in the clinic) and he thought, while caressing the black fur, that that contact was illusory and they were like isolated through a crystal, because man lives in the time, in the succession, and the magic animal, in the now, in the eternity of the instant.”

  16. On April of this year I wrote:
    “I remember when young, every year on Spring, I felt like the tune of that old song, for days, on end, the funny thing I could not remember when I sort of forgot about it?
    To be honest I felt the same way on early Autumn, as well,”
    And a song I associated with it: Love Is in the Air is a 1977 disco song by Australian singer John Paul Young so you can say I am an Autumn kind of person that I prefer even than Spring, since to me seems that Spring turns into Summer too soon, at least in the latitude, that I live, meanwhile Autumn since to linger quite longer, and we have a mild Winter, and Summer can be too hot to my liking.
    Well you did a great job on this post as you put it :”to fully ‘get’ what Heidegger was saying, but he was correct: “we do not exist inside time, we are time.”
    And your great pictures.
    Good wishes, and the best for you, and your family.😊

    • Great song ~ enjoyed listening to it and more of his songs this morning. I fully agree, autumn is a time to exhale and take in all that was thrown at us during spring/summer. Life for me slows down during the autumn, and I do enjoy the mood of this season; the changing of the tides so to speak. Wishing you well as we start this final stretch of the year. Take care ~

  17. Hadn’t seen this post. A look back at my childhood. Maasai Mara is out of this world. Literally. An I see you witnessed the great migration.
    Mzuri sana Mzee mkbuwa…

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