Time has been on my mind recently. Time is always ticking by, we all know that and the older we get the more we seem to notice it. And once we have children time appears to double, triple in speed. ‘What? Where does time go?’ ‘Time, please slow down!’ ‘How is he 6??’ our Facebook friends type in response to our birthday/starting school/heading off to college posts.
World events seem unfathomably long ago. Is it really six years since we sat in the cinema watching Frozen? I ponder as I sit in the cinema watching Frozen 2, enjoying what a nice metaphor it is for this piece that Elsa was literally frozen in time.
But time is a funny one. Yes, it does go quickly, but it can also feel endless. ‘Time flies when you’re having fun’ (but slows to almost standstill when you’re not). Waiting for the kettle to boil. Endless. Stuck in traffic endlessly watching the minutes tick by (the only things that are moving). Waiting for results – nerve-wracking and often unfairly endless.
But something else funny about time is that there is also a lot we can fit into a given amount of it. Ten minutes is nothing really – “Quick hurry up, we’ve got to leave in ten minutes!” we shout as we rush around, desperately searching for missing school shoes, listening to our offspring read with one ear whilst running around grasping our cold tea as it creates little puddles behind us which we must clean up if we can only find the time. Yet in ten minutes today I:
- Walked the dog from one end of the headland to the other.
- Read several chapters of my book.
- Made the bolognese for the lasagne I was planning on cooking later. Or most probably keeping as bolognese and changing the menu to Spaghetti Bolognese.
- Grimaced as I stuffed the king-sized duvet into the double-sized duvet cover, considered finding a king-sized duvet cover then remembered the state of the ‘linen’ (and other stuff, very little of which is linen) cupboard.
Not all in the SAME ten minutes might I add, but pockets of ten minutes, here and there. All after thinking “Aaargh, I’ve only got ten minutes…..” ONLY.
Only is a negative word.
I only got 6/10 in the spelling test. That’s 6 you got right.
I only completed two laps of the track. Two more than some.
I’ve only got £10 left on my gift card. Would you like £0? No? Well great.
Only implies we could do better or in time’s case, have more. Where time is concerned, surely we all want more, not less. The sand never runs upwards, filling the upper globe with grains – sadly. But what if it did? Let’s turn that timer over.
You awaken with absolutely no time left. The sand completely submerges the glass of the bottom globe. But then, grain by grain it rises. You climb out of bed; you have more time than a second ago. You slope towards the shower. More time than a second ago. You take a longer than usual shower. You’re using more water than you usually use but hey, you never have time to take a long shower.
Drying yourself you realise you have gained 15 minutes. Happy days. No need to wake the kids for school yet. Yesterday, when time ran the other way you’d have loaded the washing machine by now, filled the dishwasher with yesterday’s crockery, pots and pans that you meant to do last night if only there was time (or inclination?), searched frantically for the Tupperware container to match the 25 lids you harbour for your child’s snack. But today? The sand rises, grain by grain, pooling in the upper globe. Time is on your side. Just considering all of this has gained you five minutes.
And so your morning continues – you’ve sneaked a few pages of your book whilst sitting – sitting! – with a cup of tea. You’ve woken the kids but they seem in no hurry to adorn their uniform, favouring lying on top of the duvet (some credit must be given for manoeuvring themselves from the underneath to on-top position whilst still cocooned so that no limbs are exposed to the elements) in their dressing gowns. Same old you think. But today? You’re breezy, casual…. after all, you’ve gained another 10 minutes. The sand only half fills the glassy upper globe. You’ve literally got double the time left.
With all this time left there seems no point in rushing to work – today’s tasks fitted yesterday’s time frames – today there’s barely enough work to keep you busy. You drink coffee and eat lunch at your leisure. And still the sand rises.
By the time the last grain of sand filters through, you have the maximum amount of time left in your day. Infinite time. It seems time does wait for this woman Chaucer.
But. Inevitably. The timer is turned again. The ‘no time’ phenomenon is restored. What debris, carnage, hangover remains from such a day?
- Incomplete jobs
- Non-started jobs
- Crazily messy house resembling that messy girl off Friends
- Children working to their own timetables and employing the well-versed method of not moving
- Adults lunching and coffeeing at their leisure
- Piles of work filling work benches and inboxes
It would be nice to live this ‘Sliding Doors’ life, just for one day. I can’t really say how I would feel. I think I would like it but who knows? Perhaps we need time to press us in order to motivate and drive us. Would we accomplish half of the things we do if time was no object? The idea of infinite time is a little scary as well as exciting.
Chaucer meant us not to procrastinate or delay – to just get on with it whilst the time is available. Steve Maraboli quotes ‘There is only one time for happiness and the time is NOW.'