Two Swahili words present a paradigm of the flow of time and our relationship with it.

In common verb tenses, 'Sisa' is a word covering the immediate. It carries a sense of the present and things near it, including the immediate past and immediate future.

It is the time within touching distance-time that can be experienced. Micro time. 'Zamani' by contrast carries a grander scale of past present and future. This is Macro time.

'African Time' Paradigm graph
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Sisa disappears into Zamani, but before events become incorporated into the Zamani, they must become realised or actualised within the Sisa dimension.

Once the events have taken place and their immediate aftermath has been experienced, they move backwards from Sisa into Zamani.

The boundless nature of Zamani makes it both a future of endless possibility and the graveyard of time. "Zamani is the final storehouse for all phenomena and events, the ocean of time in which everything becomes absorbed into reality".

Interestingly Eckhart Tolle presents a similar yet opposite construct when considering the modern (Western) concept of time.

To most people the present moment almost doesn't exist, because what they are really interested in is the next moment, or the one after that. So they live always towards the future. They live, towards the next moment. And unconsciously, they regard the next moment, the next moment in time they need to get to, as more important than this moment - not realising that the future moment they are so desparate to get to will soon become the present. We fail to recognise that the future has no form of existence other than as a thought form. Something outside the present moment.

In the African time construct you are centred in the immediate. Time lives within touching distance. The far future comes when it may, and the far past is easily forgotten.

In the Western time construct, we are pre-occupied with the future, and the immediate only exist to be sacrificed for tomorrow.

When we are only looking to what lies ahead, we can fail to maximise our experience of the present moment. We miss out on the joy of being present.

I made reference to Mo Gowdat's happiness equation in Issue 17 - Managing your cognitive bandwidth . In his book , Mo represents happiness as 'your perception of events in your life minus your expectations of how life should behave'.

Applying that construct here, I think that by always trying to live in the next moment, our perceptions, experiences and expectations will be flawed.

As much as we might dream of it, happiness doesn't exist in the conceptual future - happiness only exists in moments of lived experience.

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