Is Time Really Relative?!


I heard a yogi deliver a message on New Years Day 2017, which has truly stuck with me.  He insisted that ‘time is relative’ and we need only to adjust our brains to that concept to liberate ourselves from the stressors of life.  

“Really?!” l thought.  Surely that’s only science fiction.  Time couldn’t be relative because we live in a linear world and share linear experiences.  Leaders, governments, and employers all subscribe to linear time!

But this was a yogi afterall so his intentions must be altruistic, right?  And if time is relative, life would be so much easier...  So I took on the challenge and spent 2017 trying to wrap my brain around this intriguing idea.  

Collective agreement, in this case around linear time, doesn’t make it fact.  There used to be a collective agreement that the world was flat!  So why can’t we bend the ‘boundaries’ of time?  Once I accepted that possibility, I was soon pondering what it would look like if the structures of reality itself could be fluctuated...

Well for starters, throw deadlines out the window!  What’s the point of molding your life to someone else’s definition of time?  Let’s break that down: How can you possibly achieve your goals by throwing out deadlines?  What does it mean, why does it matter, how do you do it?  

It took me a full year to grapple with these questions.  For someone who takes commitment, deadlines, and timelines very serious, the 'time-is-relative' concept has been hard to actualize.  And honestly, my work ethic has served me well for the most part (ask anyone who came through the Midtown International Theatre Festival during my 7-year tenure).

But that is also why I have found it life-shatteringly difficult to process the times it hasn’t served me.  What’s the value of work ethic during the misfortunate times when I was betrayed, judged on a misunderstanding, or worst of all, failed due to discrimination or some other stupid circumstance completely out of my control.  

And really, that’s the point: it’s ALL out of my control.  Especially when others, less married to commitment, deadlines, and timelines will shoot up the entrepreneurial ladder quicker than you can blink.  How many douchebags do you know who have found success?  People lie, cheat, and exploit their way to the top all the time: e.g. William Randolph Hearst, Bernie Madoff, Jeffrey Skilling, and Trump.  My partner’s business coach told him “If Snookie can be successful, why can’t you?”  

So if we can’t control anything, then why not let it go?  Will the world stop if that deadline is missed?  There might be consequences, but you probably won’t die.  Besides, life might not turn out how you planned anyway.  Just ask the Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and even the Millennials.  (See my last blog The Future is Unstable so Live in the Moment.)

And somewhere in there, we’re supposed to be following our dreams.  So what’s the easiest way to accomplish all this without all the stress and worry?  Take away the deadlines and timelines attached to your biggest aspirations.

I know, I know, we’re all going to die so the clock really is ticking…  But that is linear thinking!  And it puts a giant wrench into your Sustainability Cycle by curtailing creativity.  

Living outside of the linear is incredibly liberating because it’s living inside the moment.  And the moment changes, moment to moment!  To quote the Merlin principle taught to emerging business leaders:  

Leaders who use the Merlin Factor, identifying themselves with a particular visionary future, must likewise act on behalf of that future in the circumstances of the present.

A recent trend in the workplace supports an alternative approach to employee time-management.  MetLife’s Douglas Choo says in the 14th Annual U.S. Employee Benefit Trends Study:

"We're hearing more and more from HR managers about the importance of work-life balance among the workforce. But it's much more like a work-life blend."

And if trends in the marketplace aren’t convincing, look no further than science!  Studies are increasingly revealing that correlations between time and space demonstrate relativity.  (You can learn in Under 3 Minutes how time is not absolute.)  

Quantum physics has made quite the scientific splash trying to prove time is indeed relative.  Theoretical physicist Brian Greene explains “I might not be moving through space, but I am [always] moving through time.”

Add to this, String Theory, which has given gateway to the possibility of up to 10 dimensions in our universe.  We comprehend the 3-dimensional, but this theory suggests another 7 dimensions might include alternative realities of time:

Beyond these three lie the seven dimensions which are not immediately apparent to us, but which can still be perceived as having a direct effect on the universe and reality as we know it.  Scientists believe that the fourth dimension is time, which governs the properties of all known matter at any given point.

This is only the beginning in proving that the same theories that govern our universe also dictate our realities.  When these are proven it will become common knowledge that time is malleable and perhaps even controllable. 

What a liberating (and scary) concept!  That we can indeed build, in essence create, our own reality….that’s a lot of power and freedom.  Many people don’t know how to comprehend that, especially with the complexities artists face around the fear of success.

In PARTICLE FEVER, a theorist explains “In exploration there needs to be the set of people who have no rules and they are going into the frontier.”  This is the mindset driving artists as well!  Creativity and the Arts are essential to evolution, as I discussed in Exploring the Exploited Artist and my partner Mathew Heggem demonstrates in The Arts: A Strategy for Economic Growth.

I still very much appreciate deadlines and timelines, I’ve just had a healthy separation from them -- a no-fault divorce.  I use them as a flexible guide, not a concrete structure that will shatter if compromised.  And these measures will always adapt and evolve.  

If everything in life is getting in the way of your goals, maybe it’s time for a change, sans judgment.  Abolish that fixed, linear thinking!  Instead, free yourself to define your own authentic progress.  That’s #sustainability.  

So it turns out...the yogi was right.  Understanding time as relative is complete and utter freedom.  Freedom: that beautiful little word that holds so much personal meaning.  Now it’s 2018, and I’m all in: TIME IS RELATIVE.

Emileena's upcoming book is ANOTHER WAY, The Tao of Artist Development.  To learn more about her work, please visit

Original Artwork by Dave Law, freelance visual artist and illustrator.  For more, please visit

If you are an artist looking for development, consider Emileena's E-Velop program

Emileena PedigoComment