Time is a human construct. Of course, I’m not saying without us time wouldn’t exist. The Earth would still keep rotating, giving the planet a 24-hour day, and she would still revolve around the Sun to the tune of about 365 days each year, dragging our seasons through their paces in the process.
The time I’m talking about is the notion of time: being on time, having enough time, shaping the future using time. And … how we perceive time.
“Who cares if we’re on time?” my high school students often asked when I remark that they are tardy to class.
At that point, I ascend my soapbox. “You can never be late!” I expound. “When I was in high school, I was in a lot of plays. What if I wasn’t in my spot when the curtain rose? When I was in television working as a sportscaster, what if I wasn’t on the set when the cameras turned on? Athletes, if am scheduled to officiate your game and I show up late, how would you feel? When you are late to work, others have to do your job. Eventually, those people will not think very highly of you.”
A few kids nod their heads, but many do not.
It might surprise you to know that my nightmares, almost universely, have nothing to do with brain-eating zombies or something scary under the bed. No, mine are about being late, for a class, a game, a meeting, or a flight. All agonizing situations where I can’t get where I need to be on time.
Humans began measuring time, we think, about 3,000 years ago. People used sundials, back then. The first mechanical clocks appeared in the 14th century, the same time pocket watches came into fashion. Wrist watches evolved in 1868 following the creation by Swiss watchmaker Patek Phillippe of a mostly decorative piece of jewelry designed for Countess Koscowicz of Hungary. (For those younger types, note that a wristwatch is as the name implies: a timepiece to be worn on the wrist, a device that has gone out of style with the advent of the cellphone and the handy wee clock within.)
Let me admit here that I have, for most of my life, had a very solid belief in the structure of time. Now, with our current state of quarantine due to Covid-19, my view of time seems to have flipped on its head, because there are no classes for me to get to. No meetings. No commute. No dinner dates. No games. No swim at the health club. No appointments.
Big confession. I slept until 8 AM this morning, a far cry from my usual waking time of 5:30 AM, the moment once heralded by the wail of my alarm clock. (We can blame the horror of that contrivance on the Seth Thomas Clock Company which was granted a patent for the detestable bedside device in 1876.)
I have always hated my alarm clock. Before I became a teacher, I worked nights as a restaurant server, a reporter, and a sports official, and rarely utilized the mechanical monster to wake. I always swore that, once I retired from teaching, I would destroy the offensive timepiece with a smashing blow from a big hammer.
But it seems I might not have to. Now, the beast with the glowing digital face sits benignly by my bed. With no place to go, its services are not needed. I rise whenever it suits me, which makes me feel a bit naughty, though not quite as naughty as those afternoon naps, but I digress.
Here’s the thing. Time is all about perception. If you don’t believe me, consider the difference between 30 minutes of a root canal and 30 minutes of a massage. Same 30 minutes either way, but one certainly seems a lot longer than the other.
Today, since I have little to do, I sense my timely standards slipping away. I tell myself that, since I’m retiring from teaching in May and have already hung up my football whistle, that perhaps loosening my bonds with time is OK.
And that makes me think of the islands I’ve visited on my scuba-diving adventures over the years. Time is a different animal in places where palm trees flutter above white sand beaches and the colors of the sea blend from turquoise to blue to sliver, if you sit, relax, and watch. They call it “island time,” inferring that you can never be late, that things will come together when they do, and there is no need to worry about it.
Actually, I like that idea. Still … I need some more time to practice.
I’ll let you know how it goes.
A woman flees an abusive husband
and finds hope in the wilds of the Arizona desert.
Rebecca Quinn escapes her controlling husband and, with nowhere else to go, hops the red-eye to Arizona. There, Gaby Strand – her aunt’s college roommate – gives her shelter at the Salt River Inn, a 1930’s guesthouse located in the wildly beautiful Tonto National Forest.
Becca struggles with post-traumatic stress, but is enthralled by the splendor and fragility of the Sonoran Desert. The once aspiring artist meets Noah Tanner, a cattle rancher and beekeeper, Oscar Billingsley, a retired psychiatrist and avid birder, and a blacksmith named Walt. Thanks to her new friends and a small band of wild horses, Becca adjusts to life in the desert and rekindles her love of art.
Then, Becca’s husband tracks her down, forcing her to summon all her strength. But can she finally stop running away?
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