There is a quantum of time for every thought. Our bandwidth of thought lies well under one hundred bits per second at best. In spite of our ability to chunk information and utilise massive parallelism of cortical columns. When we are tired or otherwise indisposed, our bandwidth is reduced accordingly.
Our consciousness is arranged so as to focus our attention on one thing at a time. Women may manage a limited type of multi-tasking due to better balancing of the cortices, but men are confined practically to one thought at a time. That is one limitation, the real time limitation of thought rate.
Within hours after waking, the human brain requires nutrient and fluids, and periodically through the waking hours this must be repeated. For many humans, periodic infusions of nicotine, caffeine, ethanol, and other chemicals are required in the waking time. For most modern humans, the waking brain requires a period of rest and rejuvenation, so it watches pre-digested “information” or entertainment content, or reads or listens to particular sounds. After around fourteen or sixteen hours of “waking”, human brains require rest, so they sleep.
Humans can, of course go for much longer times without chemicals, sleep, and recreation. I myself have worked for periods of up to and longer than sixty hours without sleep, with little food or fluid, and no chemicals except the rare and treasured caffeine. That is not something humans will do willingly, unless given strong motivation. In general, the preceding paragraph applies.
When humans are born, they cannot think, not like adult humans. It requires years to acquire language and the forms of thinking that adult humans use. Up to half of each day of those early years is occupied by sleep and other non-thinking activities. If the child goes to school, well over half.
The frontal lobes do not fully myelinate before the early to middle twenties. Judgement suffers during this time prior to brain maturation, and very often the brain is well indoctrinated and innoculated against independent thought before the brain has grown to dynamic completion. In many of these cases, there is no amount of time that can remedy the loss. In other cases, the coming of full brain function allows a growth out of childhood and university indoctrination.
In all these years, particularly if the child is in school, most hours of his day are spent in non-thinking activity, even allowing for the limitations on thought in the immature brain. These hours of non-thinking become a habit not easily broken after the hobbles of childhood and youth are removed.
We think very slowly, when we think at all. Much of our time is devoted to performing duties of various types in exchange for currency, currency that gives us choices in what we do with our “free” time. We would rather talk on the cell, watch a film, relax with a cigarette or cup of coffee, drink a fine wine, and exchange non-thoughts with our friends. This is life, this is time.
Grasping for companionship thinking this will stop time this will be forever this eternal moment. Attending weddings, our own, our friends. Surprised by time by babies by new emotions. Surprised by strangers with the names of our spouse and our children. Gray hair and wrinkles time sneaks strange.
All too soon, we are spending time at the clinic, at the diagnostic center. Visiting the hospital or being visited. Attending funerals for those whose time elapsed. Seeing ourselves in the casket reflected in the bathroom mirror, seeing ourselves in the hospital bed from the medicines inside the cabinet. That is our time.
What is the bandwidth of thought when one never thinks? When what passes for thought is pre-digested hyper-processed slurm? A lifetime of it and then nothi
All the marvelous ways we have of forgetting the passage of time. We say we are killing time but really we are just ignoring time while time is killing us. What can people do? Is it enough to be wise and to age gracefully, to achieve balance and peace of mind? Yes, that is preferable to suffering. Most humans never think, never think about this except in bad dreams or tragedies, but if they did they would not accept the buddha’s answer.
Humans would want to hold time rather than to be held by time. Perhaps it comes down to the daily conflict between the will to act willfully when awake, and the will to sleep in peace. Understanding this, understanding one gulf between people. Further dividing among those who want to act while awake, those who want to achieve primacy over others, from those who only want to act out their own lives free from unnecessary hobbles.
Time hobbles when hobbling time, when hobbling time comes. Which will it be?
All of this will still be operative when “the singularity” hits us. If you understand the terrain, you can trace the future of the watercourse after the deluge.