I cleared my throat, “Seeing as we are still on the subject of time, I suppose that the the simplest illustration we could use would be two hourglasses. One of these hourglasses is just a normal one sitting on a desk as decoration. Its owner may flip it every now and again just for the sake of it, though he mainly relies on his digital clock for tracking the time so the glass is but a relic of a bygone age kept around for novelty. The other hourglass, however, is kept by a wizard who has enchanted it so that every time the last grain of sand drops to the bottom, the glass flips itself over. Both hourglasses were made at the same time and both have been around for the same time, but one has clearly felt the wear of the sands of time far more intensely than the other, that being the one that is in perpetual use. Every second that goes by, a few more grains of sand come grinding down the neck that combines the two bulbs of the hourglass. The slight abrasion may not seem to make much difference for the first thousand flips, but come tens of thousands of hours passing by, the slow scraping begins to weaken the glass until finally they form a crack. The crack grows and grows as the sand continues to fall until finally it opens up enough that every now and again, a grain of sand manages to slip out. Maybe only one grain of sand manages to escape every time the glass is flipped which does not make too much of a difference, but it does subtly decrease the time between intervals. Further, with more and more grains of sand moving through the crack, they make it grow larger so that more than one at a time can slip through. The glass keeps flipping faster and losing more and more until all that is left is but a small pitiful pile still moving through the bulbs. Meanwhile, the wizard’s workshop is running amok. The fool had set up all sorts of alchemical contraptions that tied their activation to the turning of the hourglass and now regents are being added together before being boiled for long enough and having unstable reactions instead of making lovely potions. Now everything is exploding and making a mess. The wizard, after long ages away exploring far off planes of existence, has finally returned to his tower to witness the tragic state it has been left in. He immediately deduces that the aged hourglass is the culprit and tosses it out of the window, watching time fly as it comes crashing to the ground. The wizard’s well worn hourglass rests broken in the dirt meanwhile the other that was born into this world at the same time still sits atop its desk, forgotten and collecting dust. The wood has gotten a bit more brittle with age, but it is clear that it is the one that has been ravaged less by time and is a far finer specimen than its counterpart. Now suppose there is a third hourglass made just now and identical to those two at the time in which they were manufactured. Clearly that one would be the best one as it would be fresh and the least worn by time.
My sister rebutted, “But the other ones were actually used to do something, the new one has not done anything at all or been of use to anybody. The one the wizard used was the most useful and it is because he used it so much that it became worn. The one that sat on the desk at least got to be used as a decoration and made the place look nice. The new one did not do anything and while it might have the full potential of future value, the value it has provided so far has been nothing.”
“Perhaps then there is a lesson in here. Some things like beauty are best preserved by being useless as the unused and not yet created are far safer from the ravages of time than things that are currently in existence and being actively used. There is beauty in the young and new along with the promise of future service. A well used axe while it has shown that it can chop wood has a blade that is duller than a new axe which promises to do so though as of yet has not proven to be able to.”
It was at this point that some of the swans had decided to swim over to us. Among there were some of the young cygnets. They were wonderful and quite cute, though it reminded me of the tale of the Ugly Duckling. The poor swan does not fit in with the adorable ducklings, which are usually cuter than cygnets to be fair,but when they grow up, the swan is far more beautiful than the ducks. My mind swam with all sorts of ideas of beauty, youth, age, time, the difference between cuteness and beauty, between what we adore and what we admire, time in the process of refinement.
She retorted, “Well I want to be older. I can drive when I’m older and choose to live life how I want to live without needing to deal with mom. I think that the best age is probably somewhere in the twenties that way you are still young but you are also an adult.”
“That does appear to be the case, however, as you noted these limitations that you are facing are not inherently placed onto you by your age. Society has decided when you can or cannot drive and mom has decided the rules of the house that you so despise. While in the twenties you are an adult, that only matters with how you are viewed.”
“But you do need to be old enough to do some things. A baby cannot drive or do a bunch of things, so I would say it is definitely better to age at least somewhat.”
“Well then perhaps there could be some issue as to what we consider the best kind of life and at which point we are physically capable of living said life, but I feel as though discussion of such would lead to such subjective opinions and playing of devil’s advocate that it would yield no relevant fruit. I suppose instead of looking at human life we should look at the universe more generally. One of the things that we know happens with the passage of time is entropy. Things grow to greater states of disorder. Thermodynamics tell us that every time energy changes states, some of it is lost as heat, there is no perfect efficiency. As time progresses onward, it seems that the most likely end our universe is moving towards is a Heat Death. As the process of energy being lost as heat continues, eventually there will be no more high concentrations of energy and all will be lost as heat that diffuses about the universe. There will be no more light, no stars, no fuel, just heat. As each second passing leads us closer to this outcome, I would say that in general we can say that the passage of time is a bad thing.”
My sister was clearly still unsatisfied with this explanation and she shifted about uneasily. “Well, if we look back at the example of people growing up and a certain age being the best age as I suggested the twenties, it can be good for things to age. There is no debate that a blossoming flower is more beautiful than a budding one. Age can get things to a ripe age, but after that it can be bad. The universe is still expanding as it has been since the time of the Big Bang. It could be that it has not hit its ripe age yet so time could be a good thing.”
I sighed, “Perhaps. This ripe age though does seem to be very subjective as I have said before though. One could argue being a teen is better than being a young adult as there are less responsibilities et cetera. There is, however, another alternative. While indeed it may be better to be a teen than a baby, perhaps it is best to have never been born at all. In the case that something has been given some time of existing in this universe, it may be best for it to be given more to a point, but anything beyond that point is certainly harmful, and it may well have been best for it to never have been given any time at all.
At this my sister just went silent and appeared to be both puzzled and a bit sad. I continued, “Well we have been discussing time as the fourth dimension, yes? It seems that it would be best for that value to be null. Perhaps I shall try to explain a bit better, I must collect my thoughts on this.”