Time is always the same. A second will always be a second. A minute will always be a minute, and hours will always be hours. The speed of time is never any different; it is simply ongoing and inevitable, moving forward in measures of seconds, minutes, hours, and days.
To us the time it takes to round the clock is relative. To us, time is subject to emotion. A minute of laughter is quick. However, one minute of pain can drag on for what seems like hours.
The truth is time has no regard for our emotion. Time never sleeps. There is no way to pause, stop, or rewind. There is no way to fast forward or ease time back to a slower motion.
Time, itself, is an ongoing machine. It is more powerful than anything we can build, create, or destroy, because time is indestructible. Time never feels weary or pain; it doesn’t need fuel or a minute to stop and think. Time has no emotion or thought process; it has no pulse or heartbeat—but time is very much alive and it is always moving.
I once wrote to you about time as it relates to size. I have read about a species of mosquito that only live a natural life of 24 hours. To us, 24 hours is only one day. But to the mosquito . . . that 24 hours is a lifetime. Therefore, a second to them is equivalent to one month to us. The speed of that second is no different—it only feels different because of our relation to size.
One day to an infant child feels longer than it would to say, a growing teenager, and to a growing teenager, one day would feel longer than it would to a full-grown adult.
Consider the school year. When I was a child, the school year seemed to last forever. Whereas now, I am fully grown and days peel off the calendar and months pass too quickly. Suddenly, I open my eyes and one year has already vanished before the next one makes its debut.
Time is only relative to us. It is relative to our size and our emotion.
I remember waiting on The Farm for a visit. That morning was the slowest morning I could possibly endure. Everything took its time. The line for breakfast was slow. People in front of me moved slowly—nothing was smooth—everything felt time consuming and clunky, like driving slowly over a bumpy road in an old truck without shock absorbers.
After my work details, and after the slow haul from the barn crew; after a longwinded discussion with one of The Farm’s senior members, a list of complaints from the barn boss, and after a lunch that took too long to get but only minutes to eat—the visit finally came.
I could see my Mother driving up from the road just outside the field, which was where the sheep ran across from the barn. She was driving passed the field, passing the tall, wheat colored grass that had yet to prepare for the spring season. Then she turned in, passed the big red barn and passed the cows grazing near the wooden fence. Finally, she approached the driveway of the main farmhouse.
I had not seen my Mother since my Old Man passed away. She was in a new car. This one was a two-seater—a white convertible with a blue top.
It took her more than four hours to drive from my hometown and reach the farm, which was Upstate off of Route 17.
And just like that . . . my feeling for time had changed. Suddenly, time was no longer stagnant. There was nothing clunky or slow-moving. Suddenly, time became very smooth. It became too smooth, in fact, and the minutes slipped through my fingers no matter how tightly I tried to grip them.
I was allowed to leave the grounds that day. My mother took me to the Circle E Diner on East Front Street in the town of Hancock.
For that moment, I was able to have a meal of my choice instead of a meal that was already chosen for me. I was able to eat what I wanted and leave out things, like say, some of the vegetables that I had no taste for.
Back on The Farm, nothing was ever wasted. Whether it was beats, green beans, liver, brussel sprouts , or a fish that constantly repeated in my stomach, I was to eat everything on my plate to the farmowner’s satisfaction. Otherwise, that plate would sit in front of me at the next mealtime and the one after that until I finished it.
Instead of the regimented meal with the all-too-often confrontations that come in a court appointed, therapeutic community, I sat like a young man without a leash around his neck. I sat with my mother and spoke freely. I ate as I wanted and ordered desserts as I chose. I wanted that time to last longer; however, once the check came, I knew it was time to go.
The drive from the diner to the farm was an easy 10 to 15 minute trip—but not on that day. On that day, the time it took to get from the diner to the farm seemed the same as it took for me to stand from my seat and walk over to the restroom.
Same as time never changed, neither did the distance from the Circle E Diner to The Farm. Yet to me, that ride back went much quicker. To me, the two hours of comfort and happiness during my visit slipped through my fingers as if they were only minutes.
We arrived back at the farm. My mother hugged me. She kissed me on the cheek and told me she loved me.
She said, “I’m proud of you son. And your father is proud of you too.”
And just like that . . . she was gone. I watched her drive off. I watched her get into the sporty, white convertible with the blue top. She did not speed away, but certainly, the time it took for her to pull into the long, dirt-covered driveway seemed longer than the time it took for her to leave. After that—time sort of felt stagnant again.
I wished there was more time. I wished there was another minute in those two hours. I wished there was one minute less in all the others that came before and after. But this was not the case. One minute always has 60 seconds and 60 minutes will always be an hour.
I have waited before. I have sat in waiting rooms at the hospital. Time moves slow in places like this. I have sat on the inside of jail cells, and I waited until the next morning to see the judge. I tried not to be frightened, and I tried even harder not to anticipate the judge’s reactions.
Night moved slowly on those occasions. There was no clock on the wall, but I could hear the seconds painfully ticking in my head. All I had was the slow-moving minutes and the excruciating quiet to reflect on the one question that repeated itself. “What the hell did I just do?”
I sat in the corner of a jail cell. I sitting on a wooden bench, planked against the wall in a small, foul-smelling, and dimly-lit room. I looked up at a frosted window across the corridor. The outside lights shined like a crystal ball through the opaque glass. I could not see out to recognize the nighttime sky. Even my view was taken from me—but rightfully so. I was in there for a reason and the reason was not for the food and friends. I could not hear the sounds of outside life. All I could hear was the sound of interrupted silence by tired winos and drunks complaining about their rights. The silence would be interrupted by the sound of jingling keys and footsteps. These belonged to the guards and they were usually accompanied by a newly arrived inmate with a chin tucked down and regret on their face.
I am still relatively very young. In my 42 years, I have learned more about my time. I have learned about its benefits and its relentlessness. And though I cannot counteract its movement—I can use it to my advantage.
Some of the people I work with will spend the entire day complaining about our bosses. They complain about the dirty jobs we’ve been given—they bitch and they moan, they circle the job to contemplate an easier, softer way—they look at the job with a curious expression on their face, they calculate their options, take breaks, go get different or unnecessary tools—meanwhile, the same job still waits to be done. I suppose the eight hours they work drag on painfully slow.
I wonder if eight hours feels the same to them as it would to anyone else that continues to move at a good pace. I wonder if their weekends move like the blink of an eye, and then once they blink, Monday returns to show its face. I wonder if mentally, they are the size of children, and like children, the school year takes forever, and all they wait for is recess. I wonder if they live their life, dying one moment at a time. And if they do, what a miserable life they must lead . . .
Yesterday, my daughter turned 11. She is 11 years-old, but it seems like only yesterday, she was barely the size of my arm. She was so small. And to her, I was so big.
My little girl is growing and so is my life. I have surpassed all I ever thought I could be. I am more than what people expected me to be and I have further to go and more to achieve.
I cannot waste another second on anything meaningless. I cannot be like the people I work with, circling the task at hand, contemplating an easier, softer way—meanwhile the job I need to do never gets done because I wasted my day procrastinating the next move. I cannot stand and look at life with a curious expression on my face—meanwhile, my daughter grows, my family ages, and I do nothing but circle my life and watch as other people live.
If life is a series of choices—then I choose to never let my time be excruciating again.
I choose to live before dying because there is no death worse than dying alive.
I cannot stop the force of time. No one can.
All I can do is give with all I have and see what the day brings.
So hold on tight, folks.
From this point on . . . the anticipation is pretty incredible