by Grant Sunoo


How is time perceived? 

More and more -- I'm realizing that time is fluid. For example...

1) We just celebrated my grandfather's 100th birthday
2) it's the end of the calendar year;
3) we are in the midst of welcoming a new generation of youth into our family
4) I often tell my 3 year old daughter that she has "1 minute" or "5 minutes" to do this or that -- but the reality is that I rarely actually watch the clock to ensure that she spends EXACTLY the prescribed amount of time on whatever activity it is that we're negotiating over. 
5) I'm currently on a few days' vacation -- and consequently feeling pressure to make every moment count!  
6) Our community often measures time in waves (of displacement), cycles, and generations

In each of these instances, time itself is perceived differently.  In fact, I would generally argue that time is perceived in relation to the activity that occurs within a specific timeframe.  That is to say -- 5-10 minutes of playtime is perceived very differently than 5-10 minutes of yelling & screaming.  Similarly, the 2017 calendar year--which flew by pretty quickly from my perspective, probably felt like a blink of an eye to my grandfather.  And during his 100 year lifetime, my grandfather has witnessed many cycles of change in Little Tokyo.  

Going back to our evening with Master Ohi, I wonder if people who live in an ancient society have yet another perception of time?  If you are an 11th generation master craftsman, do you have a different sense of yourself as part of a continuum?  Or do things become more cyclical?  I tend to be a pretty linear thinker/planner -- but I'm also starting to see (and reflect on) my own life in terms of cycles.  In fact, now that I think about it --- the start of a new year, welcoming a new generation, changing from one activity to the next, a pause in the routine before returning back to the office, waves of displacement, and the culmination of a long, fruitful 100 years of life.... each of my 6 "examples" could also be looked at in relation to various cycles. So maybe even if time is perceived as linear, it's actually cyclical? Does it actually just bend back upon itself? Who knows!

Grant Sunoo is the Director of Planning for Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC). He oversees LTSC’s creative place-making, community planning, and community organizing efforts. In nearly 20 years of working in Los Angeles’ non-profit sector, he has experience in affordable housing development, coalition building, leadership development, program implementation, and organizational development. A third-generation Angeleno, Grant earned a Masters of Urban Planning from the UCLA and is the proud father of a somewhat feral 3 year-old daughter.