Back on time


Credit: Google Images

I’ve promised my students at least one post per two weeks, or half their load of a blog post a week. With this post, I’m back on time (within two weeks) and I’m back on time (the subject).

Here’s what I know:

  • how much time my boys’ soccer halves and lacrosse and football quarters run
  • a good time for my son’s freestyle 100
  • the time it takes to drive to work
  • the time it takes to teach a class, attend a meeting, hold office hours
  • the time it takes to drive back from work
  • that, to my sons, time is relative, not quantifiable
  • that Google Maps is eerily correct about what time I’ll arrive at my destination

Here’s what I don’t know:

  • How Google Maps does it
  • The time I’ll arrive at any given appointment, unless Google Maps tells me, but even then I might be running behind. (Time is relative, after all.)
  • How much time I have left
  • If time can be transcended

This hyper-focus on time kicked in several weeks ago when – for the first time – I inadvertently let a class out 30 minutes early. I thought time was up. (I’ve since wondered if, at 49, my time is up.) Lately, I’ve paid more attention to synchronicity at play, as it always is whether I’m paying attention or not.  For example, last week I sat in traffic ruminating over being late to watch a game when the Rolling Stone’s “Time is on My Side” came on. Another time in the span of a couple of days maybe, I’d look at a clock or watch just as it read 11:11 and 4:44 and 3:33. Finally, yesterday, I caught a portion of the lyrics from the Talking Head’s song, “Once in a Lifetime.”

David Byrne sings: “Time isn’t holding us, time isn’t after us.”

As with much of Byrne’s work, I’m not sure what he means. His words are mysterious. Still, I love the lyrics, and here’s what they make me think.

“Time isn’t holding us” – We cannot be held by time; we are outside of time’s reach. And if we are outside of time’s reach, we are somehow transcending time. The notion of transcending time reaches into metaphysics, which is pretty cool…but the “answers” offered aren’t “knowable.” They’re illusive and, therein lies discomfort for many, including me. Who wants uncertainty?

“Time isn’t after us” – We don’t need to be so defensive with time. Time moves along just fine, carefree and ignorant of the ways we fight it: face-lifts, excessive exercise, addictions of all sorts. We don’t have to run from it. Instead, we can move along with time at our own pace, secure that we’ll get there when we get there. What’s “there?” A specific place? The end or beginning of a period in life? A new state of consciousness?

It’s time to stop. For two posts in a row, I’ve had the luxury of not writing a conclusion. Perhaps this is my way of fighting time. After all, how can we measure something that begins but does not end?

[For my students on the writing process: one crappy first draft (20 min), one edit (15 min), one failure to post within two weeks, even though I lied above about being on time (5 days).]





About Malcolm W Campbell

Father. Husband. Writer. Teacher. Outdoorsperson. And something else... Forgetful?
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