Time is too slow for those who wait,
too swift for those who fear,
too long for those who grieve,
too short for those who rejoice,
but for those who love,
time is not.
— Henry Van Dyke
Did you do anything special last Sunday?
I’m guessing you did not. Neither did I.
But we should have. Everyone should have. The whole country should have.
Last Sunday should have been a national holiday. There should have been fireworks and parades. The champagne should have flowed. We should have danced in the streets.
The day should have been resplendent with all of this. And more. The sky should have been the limit. Everything we could think of to herald a great victory.
Because that’s what last Sunday was. A victory. A victory over an unyielding tyrant that every other day of the year runs, and sometimes ruins our lives.
But not last Sunday. Last Sunday we won for a change.
Last Sunday we defeated Time.
We all got together and stood up to that bully. That bully who drags us out of a warm bed in the middle of a sweet dream. And then tells us to go to bed when we aren’t even tired. That bully who dictates when we begin a day of work and when we end it. And when we get to eat lunch. That bully who makes us rush, makes us worry and far too often makes us late.
Yes, that bully.
We stood up and slapped him right in the face.
All it took was turning our clocks back an hour and gifting ourselves a 25-hour day. And it was so easy. It took hardly any time at all, pun intended. And when it came to today’s technology, like our cell phones, we didn’t have to lift a finger.
So, yes, a celebration was warranted.
But while we’re celebrating, we should ask ourselves, if we can exercise such control over Time every fall and every spring, why do we allow it to control us every other day of the year?
We are slaves to nothing the way we are slaves to Time. It’s always time to do this and time to do that. Not just time to go to bed and time to get up, but time to grow up, time to settle down, time to get busy, time to speak up, and then time to shut up. Sometimes we’re told it’s not just time we did these things, but “high” time.
Isn’t the biggest insult to humanity the alarm clock? Followed closely by the time clock? If you’ve ever worked where you must punch out for a lousy 15-minute break and then punch back in, you know what I mean.
Why? Because “time is money.”
That’s sad. Not to mention preposterous. When pitted against money, Time is undefeated. Billionaires die too.
Time is much more valuable than money. And its chief value, if you ask me, is when it disappears.
I came upon this notion in the novel “Borderliners” by Danish author Peter Hoeg. He suggests we only notice Time when it becomes an obstacle. Like, when we’re stuck in the security line and hear that our flight is boarding.
Likewise, we are never more aware of time than when we are hurting. There’s nothing like a toothache in the middle of the night to freeze the hands on a clock. Or worse, a heartache.
But the opposite happens when we are immersed in joy. Then, time disappears. The movie ends and we are stunned. Where did the last two hours go? We’re lost in a book and don’t notice it’s midnight until we realize we’ve been trying to read with just one eye open. Night descends, causing you to glance at your cell phone and discover you’ve been talking to your friend for an hour and a half.
These experiences, when I am completely unaware of time, are, without question, the happiest of my life. So I try to maximize them. That’s why I stopped wearing a watch. About 30 years ago I read, “I never knew how much time I had until I threw my watch away.” I immediately took off my watch, tossed it in a trash can and set myself free. (Okay, it was an inexpensive Timex, but you get the idea.)
“But when you don’t wear a watch,” people often ask me, “aren’t you always late?”
“When you don’t wear a watch,” I counter, “you can’t afford to be late.”
I believe these moments of pure joy when Time disappears are God’s way of giving us little glimpses of heaven, for when we finally lay down our earthly bodies, we will be free of Time forever.
Until then, let’s rejoice in small victories. Such as last Sunday’s 25-hour day. It’s not just the brazen act of adding an hour that feels so good, but the freeing realization that, by golly, we can.
Ed Ackerman writes The Optimist every week. Look for his blogs online during the week at pittstonprogress.com.