Thursday, November 5, 2009

Time, That Shadowy Thing

It flies; it hangs heavy. We make it, spend it, waste it. Time is that illusive thing, part relentless, part of our own doing. When I’m writing, two hours seems like a few minutes. When I’m bored it gets stubbornly slow. In L.A. in order to arrive on time for an appointment we have to risk being twenty minutes early.

My watch has been in for repair the past two weeks and I haven’t missed it very much; I think I swallowed my own clock long ago. For the most part I’m aligned with its tick. When I get up to pee in the middle of the night my bladder keeps time. It says to me, 2:51 or 4:11 and It’s generally within five minutes of being right.

In my seventy-seventh year I have probably slept about twenty-five of them. A fair allocation for my unconscious but I fear for the millennials, those born into this world of the virtual where information is at avalanche proportions.. How to process it and how to carve out some down-time to reflect and refuel. At some point we all need to un-busy ourselves.

If, indeed, our perceptual span has been whittled down and we think in sound bites maybe it mimics pre-literate man whose world came at him with simultaneity. As he hunted, touched by the wind, he relied on smell, and sound while he read the footprints and shadows. So too, today, the ratio of our senses has been rearranged.

Last week we set our clocks back and re-gained that hour lost in April. In my time tunnel I can recall how it was in elementary school when we went on Daylight Saving Time. I thought of that lost hour as if it were the lost day when I was out with whooping cough or mumps and when I returned the class had grown into adults. I could never catch up. Their pimples were gone, voices changed. Suddenly boys could build radios and girls spoke a language only my hormones understood.

It’s taken most of my life to accept that all of us were absent that day when the meaning of life was explained. In my worst nightmare I’m the last survivor on the planet unable to defend my ignorance to visiting aliens, neither the walls that separate us nor the mysterious workings of the clock.

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