What 24-hour time taught me about translating

When I first set my watch to 24-hour time, army time, I couldn’t make sense of it.

13:53?

That means 1:53 PM, right? It got worse as the time moved further away from noon.

17:42?

Quick! What’s 17 minus 12?

The whole point of telling time is to quickly get a bearing on where you’re at in the day. If you have to think much about it, you end up losing time. And you end up frustrated. When I switched to 24-hour time, it felt like arithmetic, not time.

But that was a long time ago now. Now I have the hang of it.

21:04.

I don’t have to translate that to 9:04 PM anymore. I just know what 21:04 means.

That’s what balance is. That’s what it means when someone says you’re in your element. That’s what’s happening when you’re doing something but can’t explain how.

It’s when you stop translating.

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