The Truth About Time

Image: “Warped Clock Face” by Gary Cycles

Time is infinite and finite.

It also doesn’t exist.

When I was five or six, my uncle, in his trademark wife beater and green factory pants, tried to teach me to tell time.

“What time is it?” He’d point to the white round clock on the wall over the stove in my grandmother’s yellow kitchen.

I stumbled. I stuttered.

“It’s a quarter to three,” he said, explaining the rules of the big hand and the little hand.

Nearly twenty years later, at a holiday gathering, I chatted about how quickly the year passed, a traditional New Year’s Eve conversation starter.

“You know,” my boyfriend’s brother said,  “Time doesn’t exist anyway.”

“What?” I said. “Time exists.”

“No, it doesn’t,” he said. “Think about it. It’s made up. Someone had to create it.”

Before I could finish another counterpoint, he continued.

“I know, it blew my mind a few years ago when this professor told me. It’s crazy right?”

And so there I stood, a moment in time that would forever change my perspective of how I measured anything and everything.

For years after, I scurried down my own philosophical rabbit hole.

This must be why sometimes a minute feels like ten or an hour can feel like a minute?

Neither exist.

Neither exist!

The only things that are real are feelings and thoughts.

Did certain feelings and thoughts and experiences make the “time” go by faster?’’

And what about eternity? Made up too for sure. A hunch? Educated guess?

So then, what of age?

If time does not exist, then surely age is immeasurable.

I mean, who says? Is a year, a year simply because we agree?

Therefore, I conclude, I am ageless.

But the physical body, it declines. Surely evidence of the passage of something?

I propose my own theories:  What if we believed we could live past 100? What if by defining or expecting the number of days and weeks we have, we’ve created a ticking time bomb?

These days, I’m not as obsessed as I had been.

But I still do find myself taking a minute (oh the irony) to remember that time is neither here nor there. A few seconds to reject the constructed and agreed upon reality that runs our lives.

In those moments, I think of one thing that is true.

Sunrises. Sunsets.

An infinite and finite number of sunrises and sunsets.

 

 

Keysha Whitaker is the creator and host of Behind the Prose, a podcast that deconstructs the work of contemporary authors, essayists, and journalists.

 

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The Danger of Being Overwait

When I was in high school, I often thought: I can’t wait to graduate and go to college so I can start my life.

By my third year in college, I thought: I can’t wait to graduate and get a job so I can start my life.

In my first 9 – 5, I’d sit at my desk at lunch and think:

I can’t wait until I get married so I can start my life.

 

I can’t wait until I get the job that I want.

 

I can’t wait until I get the car that I want.

I can’t wait until I get the apartment that I want.

 

I can’t wait until I get the . . .

 

I can’t wait until . . .

I can’t wait . . .

I thought and thought about how much I couldn’t wait until one day I realized that the truth was: I can’t wait.

I can’t wait for some outside circumstance to fall into place. I can’t wait for the lunar eclipse. I can’t wait for my lucky numbers from the astrology website. I can’t wait for the perfect job. I can’t wait  for the perfect person. I can’t wait for the imperfect person to act right.

I can’t wait and neither can you.

The longer we dwell on how much we can’t wait for something, all we do in the meantime is exactly that: wait.

We wait for anything to happen to begin something that has already begun: our lives.

And while we wait, our wait turns into a fat, nasty wait that clogs our arteries, slows us down, and shortens our life span.

So before you die, do yourself a favor:

Lose the wait.

 

 

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