31 May 2015

Time management

All that is not eternal is eternally out of date. (CS Lewis)

This folder is the culmination of about 6 months work. Most projects we do generate a folder like this (in corporate orange - hello), divided into sections such as hotels, speakers, exhibition, programme and anything else we're asked to get involved in. As a conference approaches, the Orange Folder steadily fills up with bits of paper as information becomes available and finalised documents replace draft versions of things. By the time the meeting starts it is a complete summary of the next few days of my life and I would be totally stranded without it. We have digital versions of everything - but I need a tangible thing to hold in my hands and flick through - because it's far easier and more comforting to be able to hold the information in both hands. The Orange Folder becomes the event Bible, and must be accessible all the time.

Then the conference takes place. Large volumes of people gather in one place. A flurry of activity ensues. Then everyone goes home again. And a really weird thing happens - the Orange Folder becomes redundant.

The care and attention it has previously enjoyed is withdrawn - practically overnight. It returns home to a cupboard in the office alongside other summaries of events gone by, all waiting patiently for a day when they might be selected from the shelf and referred to once more. The Orange Folder, fresh from duty is likely confused at this sudden abandonment: Why is no one picking me up to arrange and re-arrange my contents? What happened to all the flicking through me 10 times a day to access my secrets?! Are you honestly telling me NO ONE needs to know which symposia will be held in which room, when the sponsors can run through their slides or who is still to submit a travel claim? What about how many Gala dinner meals need to be vegetarian, pescatarian, halal or under no circumstances contain peanuts?? No, no no - don't shut the cupboard door...!

But of course, no one cares now. After the dinner's over, no one needs to know what the final numbers were (which, incidentally, 10% of people won't show up for and at least one person will spontaneously develop / abandon a vegetarian lifestyle because they've just seen the alternative at another table...).

Isn't that weird? How can something go from being indispensable to recyclable in a matter of days? Time is such a fickle thing.

Or is it MORE weird that I even think about this stuff - because the alternative would involve a realm of no past or future - only the all consuming now. A fluid existence not framed by the passing of days and weeks and years, but something beyond the boundaries of experience or vocabulary or imagination. A place where the Orange Folder is always important or isn't needed at all...

What if we lived in immortality, like the wormhole prophets in DS9? Having never experienced linear existence, they need the alien concept of 'time' explained to them - and even then consider the whole thing to be unstable, unpredictable and quite frankly rather bizarre ('You mean you value your ignorance of what is to come???').

I'm with the Wormhole Prophets.
And CS Lewis.
(Who, to be fair, was plagiarising St Peter)
But until then I'm working on the contents of the next Orange Folder.

But don’t forget this one thing, dear friends: To the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day. (2 Peter 3:8)

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