Time on my Hands
We are at that marker of the year when all of us think about time. Time is in the spotlight right now. We celebrate a new year with the dropping of a ball at Times Square. We share a toast and look towards the new year with hope and promise. But, time has been on our minds, well,…since the beginning of our time. The ancients used the stars as a way to measure it. Later, around 1600 BC, the Babylonians developed an actual mathematical system for the calendar. There were oil lamps and candles that not only added light in a normally dark night but also measured time by the melting of the wax or the usage of the oil. Eventually, sundials were developed and the first actual mechanical clock in 1275.
We’ve written about it: “Time waits for no one (Folklore), Time is money (Benjamin Franklin), Time heals all wounds (Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy), Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind (Nathaniel Hawthorne). We’ve created numerous songs about it such as “Time in a Bottle” by Jim Croce or “As Time Goes By”, written by Herman Hupfeld in 1931, “Time After Time” by Cyndi Lauper in 1983, and “Time” by Pink Floyd along with many others that I’d like to list, but we’d "run out of time" in doing so. Like everything we do on this planet, we try to control time but are hopeless failures at doing so. We set clocks to remind us. We format the changing of light in the sky to a calendar and hours within a day. We try to save time with daylight savings time, but we know that certainly is not working. We have time zones that either take away time or add to it, depending on where you are on the geographical map.
We can see time in our faces when we look in the mirror, in new wrinkles and graying hair. We witness just how fast time moves when we go to visit a baby just after birth and then again a few weeks later — awestruck by how much the child has grown.
On the coast, we can watch the changing tides and how every day, regardless of the weather or season, the tide will rise and fall spaced by six hours in between. And at this time of year, at the end of our calendar for 365 days, we remember how the year unfolded and what happened during it. For me, it is a slap in the face like Cher did to Nicolas Cage in the movie Moonstruck…” Slap out of it!” I think about what I have accomplished. Not in physical or monetary gains, but in those things you cannot put a fixed financial value on. Things that “stand the test of time.” What did I do that was good this year? Did I stop to care for anyone other than myself? Did I offer simple gestures of acknowledgment to others? A socially distant wave? A verbal thank you or good morning? Was I able to let others know that even though we are all very different, we still all can be kind to one another? Did I set an example for others? Time has taught me much in my 21,170+ days that I have been here. And I guess the thing that mystifies me about time is that it never stops. Being residents on this big globe, we don’t feel the earth spinning, yet we know that every day will end and darkness will follow. We know that seasons will change, leaves will grow bright and green and eventually turn brown and brittle. We know that from the second we take that first breath of air at the hospital, that we are changing…aging.
At this point in my life, I guess you could say I am an “old-timer;" someone who views the past with an unrealistic, positive slant. It seems that time does that to you as you age. You think less about what was said in the past, but more about the expressions on the faces. You hear less of the anger and more of the laughter. You think about all those who have been good to you. Who made you smile, who made you feel good about yourself. Those who helped you succeed, grow, and advance in your career. Those who showed you love... “Should auld acquaintance be forgot And never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot And days of auld lang syne?” Yet, I feel so glad for time. Time is not my enemy even though it is changing me and everything on this planet daily. Time means that failures can be forgotten, that pain can be diminished and wounds healed. Time means that we can start over and do better than we did the day before. That we can learn and change just like the color of light from sunrise to sunset.
I guess there is really only one thing we can honestly change about time…it is how we use it. Like dipping a stick into a river of rushing water, you can’t stop the flow, but you can change the direction. We make the future with every action we do today. Time can be wasted or time can be a resource ready for us to shape, ready for us to alter for the better. Whether you mentor a child or plant a tree, in your lifetime you may not see the end results, but all the same, you have altered time for the better. Here’s hoping that in the coming year, time will be good for you and your family. That time spent with them will not be wasted on arguing about political views or past poisons. That you’ll remember those who came before us and with a smile and a teardrop in the corner of your eye, you will toast their memory.
Happy New Year!!!