Playing with Time

I’m going to set my timer for three minutes and see how many timely puns and references I can make. Annnd go: A long long time ago I can still remember how that music used to make me smile. My sister and I would sing this song whenever we had time to kill and nowhere in particular to go. But then I’d lose track of time and I’d get grounded for not being home on time. I spent most of 7th grade grounded because of my lack of time management – and, to be fair, a cell phone. I would have owned the ability to call my mom and say, “I’m running late. Can I have more time?”

Occasionally, I would wonder where the time went. My friend Anne would say, “If you’re lost you can look and you will find me.” Time after time she helped me navigate my way through my inability to pay much attention to time – or at least when it was time to go. I made it to school on time, turned my homework in on time, and had a fine time in high school and college. As I reached the crossroads between my adolescence and adulthood, I realized I’d been having the time of my life.

I made it to the church on time when I got married. A few years later made it to the hospital in the nick of time to deliver my son, and then a short time later, my daughter. Then time became a wibbly wobbly timey wimey concept and in no time flat, it seemed, they’d grown from babies to young adults. Rather than wondering where the time went, I’ve enjoyed every second of every moment I’ve spent time with them, teaching them to tell time, then how to manage their time themselves.

I have learned that the hours can pass like minutes and that the minutes can feel like days depending on how much time I’ve been waiting in line. An eternity can pass while waiting and then in the blink of an eye, time doesn’t matter anymore. John Green reminded us that some infinities are larger than other infinities, which makes me smile every time I think of all the time I’ve spent loving and being loved. It’s a nonstop passage through the sands of the hour glass.

And … ding! Time to reflect:

This tongue-in-cheek piece of time referencing is a timely reminder (I’m trying to stop, trust me), that we seem to spend way more time manipulating and pleading, cajoling, and whining about time than we seem to spend just being the wonderful people that we are. Yes, we need to balance the things we want to do and the things we have to do. Yes, it’s difficult. I have a good friend whose concept of time is quite a bit more flexible than mine. In fact, when we used to see each other regularly, I began telling her to meet me about a half hour before I planned on arriving myself. She’d still be 15 minutes late. I have come to the point of my life where I appreciate that however much time I have on this planet, I should spend it wisely. I love nothing more than spending a day reading, writing, and doodling. That’s not time lost; the gift of free time is mine to spend however I choose. Some people would watch everything they’ve recorded on their DVRs, while others might enjoy a Netflix marathon. Still others would donate their time for causes that give them meaning.

My first exposure to time’s actual value was in 7th grade, evidently a critical year in my psychosocial development because I’ve referenced it twice in just a few paragraphs. I was told to memorize “If” by Rudyard Kipling. My favorite two lines of the poem are:

“If you can fill the unforgiving minute/With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run.”  In fact, this piece of advice from a well-loved poet is probably what influenced me to come home on time more than getting grounded ever did. That, plus I became aware that my tardiness made my mom worry.

Many years later, I still haven’t become a master of time; I just spend more time being grateful for what matters to me. Please forgive the song lyrics, book references, and Dr. Who version of time. The quick version is this: time is an artificial construct and has no meaning apart from the value we give it. Take the time to appreciate what really matters, to live fully in your moments. They pass way too quickly, and then we’re out of time.

 

References (I made a bunch, feel like giving credit!): “A Long Long Time Ago,” American Pie, Don McLean; “If you’re lost,” Time After Time, Cyndi Lauper; “Time of my life,” allusion to Good Riddance, Green Day; reference to spending eternity waiting, vague allusion to Catch-22, Joseph Heller; “some infinities,” The Fault In Our Stars, John Green; If, Rudyard Kipling. Let me know if you think I missed one.

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