The touch of time is such an elusive thing, one that either drives us to action or causes complacency that ends in the dormancy of defeat. We all worry about time all the time. Watch people when time does not matter to you, when you are loitering on a park bench or leaning against a city wall. See the delirium on their faces as they rush here and there; notice how often someone checks his or her watch waiting at a bus stop; see how frustrated people can become in a doctor’s waiting room as time seems to almost stand still.
Our worries about time are a pressing human need to control that which is out of bounds. We fret over hours, minutes, and seconds when sometimes days and weeks pass by with tedium. Five minutes waiting for a train seems like eternity; five minutes playing our favorite sports feels like seconds.
Time is a universal qualifier and we all must endure its wrath and burden. So, when we are thrust into yet another situation completely out of our control – a time change – it seems that whether we view the glass as half full (oh, we got an extra hour of sleep) or we see it as half empty (I slept through an hour I will never get back), the issue of the change being thrust upon us is the same.
I have had different feelings about time changes over the years. When I was young, my parents let us stay up an hour later than usual and watch TV because we were getting that extra hour. When I was a young man going out with my friends, the idea that the bar or club would stay open an extra hour was infinitely appealing; however, it always bothered me that on another Saturday in the spring we would lose that hour again and have to pack it in early.
Once I had my own children I too allowed them that stay up late option, but as I have learned this morning, that does not get them up earlier or even at their usual Sunday morning time. Staying up later invariably leads them to wanting to sleep longer the next day, and I must say I do understand this need as almost a way to stay in bed until nine o’clock, even if it is really ten o’clock.
Now, I am also thinking about the philosophical implications of sleeping through the time change. As I am sleeping (and most of the people in my local area are too), the silent stars pass over New York City and we ostensibly all go back in time. It’s not in H.G. Wells’ style (no time machine required), but we are time traveling. That opportunity, however involuntary, is perhaps a missed moment in time. Why sleep through that?
One year I could not sleep and remember staring at the computer screen with a throbbing in my brain, and as the clock went from 1:59 back to 1:00, it registered in my mind that things are falling apart even as we all think they are structured and together. At that moment, in all it’s power and regal entitlement, the universe was basically telling me, “You have an extra hour to stare at that clock and not be able to sleep,” and there was nothing I could do about it.
Maybe we should enjoy the journey through space and time for what it is, and perhaps we can wonder how that extra hour could be more appreciated, just like that subway train that comes on time or that empty department store at dinnertime. What we do with our time is inextricably linked to how we view the moment spent. Are we living for that moment and appreciating it? Or are we letting hours expire at great expense?
All of this comes back to the time change. Today some of us will be reinvigorated by having that extra hour under our belts, or maybe we can have the problem that we arrived at the store that opens at 7:30 but forgot to set our watches back; therefore, we were there an hour too early.
They say what goes around comes around. That is true of the earth turning on its axis and spinning through space around the sun. We live our days and years and move through eternity on this rock hurtling through the infinite expanse of an unyielding universe. As we turn our clocks back this morning, sip our coffee, and glance at the newspaper, usually some kind of symbol will make us aware that time has gone backwards. What does it mean to us in the big picture: perhaps nothing or maybe everything.
What do we do with our time? How can we make it count? Maybe the idea is that every minute we live does not need to be qualified. Living our lives on the clock invariably means we will be dominated by it. Yes, we all have schedules and we face the reality of having to be here or there, but there are down times and we should really savor those. Walk on the beach, meander in the park, sit and watch the world go by and feel the strength in not having to be anywhere at anytime. We all need that now and then.
I hope you enjoy the rest of the day and make every minute count, but whatever you do please don’t count your minutes.
Photo credits: nyc night-thechive.com; harold lloyd-favim.com; worker-bubblews.com; fall back-houstonherald.com