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Confessions of a Hard-Core Clock Watcher

March 30th, 2019 by Michael Dyet

Clock time

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it, but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. It’s thin current slides away, but eternity remains. ~ Henry David Thoreau

Hmmm, can a hard-core clock watcher learn to make friends with time?

Something got me thinking today about time, or more specifically the nature of it. I see your eyes glazing over. Oh no, he’s going on one of his philosophical meanders! Yes, I am. But I promise I will be a brief stroll.

We generally think of time as a constant – simple, unchanging and definitively measurable. But there is a whole body of science, known as Horology, around the nature of time which is heavily influenced by Einstein’s theory of relativity.

Einstein’s introduced the concept of space-time. In his theory, space and time are interconnected and the distinction between past, present and future gets blurred. I will not go any further down that road lest I stumble. But it does set the stage for me to ponder.

We tend to view time as a malevolent force over which we need to exert control. We do so by dividing into increments from seconds, minutes and days all the way up to years, decades and millenniums. Reducing it to ticks on the clock and pages turning on the calendar creates an illusion of control that pacifies us.

But time has an elusive and mutable quality that resists our attempts to rein it in.

In my youth, I saw what seemed like an endless amount of time stretching out ahead of me. I was impatient with the passage of time. In my restlessness, I regularly urged it speed up so I could get to those places and experiences I craved. I wanted tomorrow to get here as soon as possible so I could get my hands on the promises it held.

But now, at the age of 61, I lament the loss of time and protest how fast it moves. There are not enough hours in the day for all I need to do. I have become a hard-core clock watcher. I cannot imagine not wearing a wristwatch. I want to slow down today until I have crammed all the must-do stuff into it. My most fervent desire is to wake up tomorrow and feel free to luxuriate in it.

Time and I have become mortal enemies. It is forever straining to get away from me while I am forever straining to bend it to my will. We are in a never ending arm wrestling match which I intuitively know I am doomed to lose.

The wisdom of age entreats me to make friends with time and live within the moment. Occasionally, and ever so briefly, I attain this state. But it slips away from me all too quickly.

I am inclined to believe that Thoreau got it right when he employed the metaphor of time as a stream to go a-fishing in. It is shallow and easily used up, but at the same time infinitely wide stretching to eternity. I have focused too much on its depth and not enough on its generous horizontal horizon.

There is time enough, but none to spare.

Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is also the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at www.mdyetmetaphor.com or the novel online companion at www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog.

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