Tick Tock

Image: Large Clock face with Roman Numerals with a brickwall backdrop, it's 11:55 a.m.I woke up recently startled by the fact that my deadline to write my next column for ABILITY was that day! First I spent about 30 minutes or so eyeing a blank Word document on my computer. Then, unable to think of anything to write about I thought, Hey! How about some peanut butter toast! So I shut my computer off and dashed off to the kitchen.

It was only after I had sticky peanut butter on my fingers that I realized I wasn’t all that hungry. In truth, I was procrastinating so I didn’t have to face that dreaded blank page. After I finished my toast—waste not, want not, right?—I headed back to the computer. It was getting late, and I felt the pressure mounting.

Then it hit me, I want to write about time. We’re all affected by it, and we all know how many hours there are in any given day. However, we all have our own way of relating to it.

Some of us feel like there’s not enough time in each day to do all the things we need to do, while others have too much time on their hands and spend it surfing the internet for hours, or vegging out in front of a wide screen TV flipping channels and not watching anything in particular as they numbly kill time.

Time can feel like an eternity or it can whip by in an instant, depending on what we’re doing. If we’re doing something we love like soaking in a hot bath, or dining with a friend, time races by. But if we’re stuck in a long line at the DMV, or waiting on hold for a customer service rep, probably in some far-flung place like Bangladesh, it can feel like it’s taking forever.

How interesting that we either love or hate time, and that we spend a lot of each day obsessing about it. Seriously though, if time didn’t exist, we would not be alive. Time is an earthly reality, probably put in place by a sage mastermind so that all of life did not happen simultaneously.

The lyrics to the Byrds’ song, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” come to mind, particularly the way their voices harmonize on the lyrics:

A time of love,
a time of hate
A time of war,
a time of peace
A time you may embrace
A time you may refrain from embracing…
I swear it’s not too late. 

Basically the song means that you can fit everything you need to do into one lifetime.

One of the ways we learn about what to do during our brief stay on the planet is through our dreams. You may

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 go to sleep and then wake up from an epic dream where you flew to France, climbed a hillside, frolicked in the ocean, and topped it off at Disneyland. In real time, it would take days, months, possibly years to do all these things, yet you accomplished them in the handful of hours that you slept.

So whether we believe we have too much time on our hands or not enough, we still each have a 24-hour a day to work with. So time is not really the issue here, so much as how we perceive it, and how efficiently we use it.

Whether we’re waiting in line at the DMV, or swooshing through our favorite ride at Disneyland, let’s tap into our gratitude for every minute we’re alive. The choice to live in the moment is a different way to bend the hands of the clock and comprehend the elastic, illusion of time. And it can be more fun.

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Read more articles from the Itzhak Perlman Issue.


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