Months ago this phrase whispered, then echoed in my brain: “Time is my enemy. And my best friend.” Recently I was listening to On Being and the phrase returned. I thought of the saying, “I’m my own worst enemy.” Our relationships to ourselves are based on the choice of enmity or love. Same goes with our perception of time. We have no asset more valuable than time and just as the wise and kind choice is self-love (every moment of our lives is spent with ourselves), the wise and kind choice is to embrace the wonder and possibility of our finite time on this spinning globe.
As a child, I anguished over the concept of time and infinity. There were sleepless nights with no one in the world with whom I could discuss my anxiety. Round and round my head would spin, just like the spherical/cyclical Universe. I was about eleven when I came to a sort-of resolution. “Oh, well,” just washed over me on a summer night when I again couldn’t sleep. What I’ve recently learned is that that “Oh, well,” is often the most resolution I can hope for. My anxiety cannot fix or control forces I cannot understand and embrace.
I remember my Delanie going through the same thing before she was ten. She came into my room at 2am because she was worried about the sun exploding. I assured her that was quite a-ways away. It reminded me of the joke where a person gasps in terror to hear the sun is exploding in 2.8 billion years and asks, “WHAT?!” Then after the repeat, “Whew!!! I thought you said 2.8 MILLION years.
In fifth grade, I watched the analog clock on the wall for the interminable minutes before the final bell of the day. As I attentively watched the hands slowly rotate, I wondered about those minutes I was wishing would die. Would there be a time in the life that stretched in front of me that I would wish as intently to resuscitate some precious minutes? What made those minutes worthless, but other minutes precious? Of course all value is assessed ad hoc. “What is aught but as ’tis valued?” -Troilus. I also recall thinking about how those minutes that seemed to stretch into eternity would be completely forgotten soon enough. And then thinking that that would only be the case if I forgot them. I could choose to ponder those minutes and write about them when I am 47, and sooo those eternal minutes become eternal.
As a senior in high school, my journalism teacher (now fb statist extraordinaire) asked the few students in hearing range to consider the moment in which we found ourselves. Never again were we going to be the same. We might be the same people in the same room even tomorrow, but we will be in different clothes and poses; the weather, moods, politics… we and the world will be different. It was comforting and alarming. The comfort was that we could indeed consider and value that moment.
My favorite thoughts about time were coined by my brilliant first-born when he was ~10: “I’m just killing time. Time’s just killing me. Which will die first? I think it will be me.”