Books Worth Reading #2

The Order of Time – Carlo Rovelli

Carlo Rovelli is a theoretical physicist whose work is focused on loop quantum gravity. Don’t worry. I don’t really know what that is either. For people like you and me, Rovelli’s best trick is taking a complicated subject, e.g. the nature of time, and moving our simple understanding forward in ways that are meaningful.

The prose is economical. The author manages to seem really excited about the subject, and I walked away with a deeper sense of the way I relate to my life and its inexorable passage.

The book is broken up into short chapters. I read them one-at-a-time, went away, thought a bit, and then took on the next one.

As a runner and cyclist and hiker, I think about time a lot. I am forever doing math, calculating times to destination or distance, estimating how long I’ll be away from home for my wife, etc. But I also torture myself with time a bit. I judge myself based on times, or I get discouraged by how long efforts are taking. Most of this is misguided thinking.

Once you open yourself to the infinitude of time, you realize how meaningless most of what you do and think is, and that’s freeing, at least for me. It helps me get back to the moment I’m living in, the feeling of being alive. It also helps me draw closer to moments and people from my past, who were just here in the grand scheme.

Equally, my adventures will be over in a blink. This is true in the geological sense, but also in the experiential sense, in that, once a run or ride is done, you feel as though you just did it, AND that it only took a brief time. I ran 15 miles yesterday in two-and-a-half hours. What I remember is a few snapshots of struggle, but mostly just gliding through steadily, like it was nothing. That’s not how I felt in each moment, mind you, but that is my experience of it retrospectively.

Anyway, read this book. It’s quick, and it helps.