Where did the time go?

When I was a child, I was fascinated by clocks. They told time. Now, what they told it, I have never figured out, but I was curious nonetheless. Times back then had names… bath time, nap time, lunch time… but you can’t call back the time once it goes by. But the coaches in football games could call time. Again, I couldn’t figure out what they called it… or what it would say if it answered.

My folks took time to read to me. They took time for dinner. They gave me time out, and mom whiled away the time on the phone. I didn’t see any time on it in the first place. But according to the newscasts, criminals are doing time in prisons all over the place. And if they break the rules, they even add time to their sentences.

I remember teachers giving us free time in between classes. I remember them offering us free time after tests. I remember getting months and months of free time in the summers, when the teachers released us from what we thought was clearly a prison.

In school, there was interchange in terms of time. You took time to study, you borrowed time to finish projects, and you made time with the members of the opposite sex when given the opportunity. You stole time to spend with your friends, but you made up time by taking shortcuts. Time was an enemy, when graduation loomed. Time was on your side, though, when looking for a spouse. Time was wasted by my friends that got into drugs; it was whittled away by the small things that popped up while trying to get ahead. Time flew; time dragged, time sometimes ran out.

Even adults had free time. I recall my grandfather’s pickup rolling out on his leisurely way to work, and he made time to stop for coffee with his co-workers and friends, and even get a game or three of Cribbage in, before the town’s whistle would announce the beginning of the workday. His lunch time was pinched, stretched, and enjoyed. was an hour long, so he took time to pitch horseshoes on the company grounds, so much so he won several citywide tournaments in that time-honored game. When he got off at the afternoon whistle, took the time to stop by the baseball diamond, basketball court, or football field and shout acclamations at the high school team – those small-town folks sure know how to have a good time.

He would be home well ahead of suppertime, and would still find time tend the garden, bring in the mail, and work the daily crossword puzzle. He lost track of time on the banks of a lake while fishing, time slipped away while he was napping, and time stood still when he looked in Grandma’s eyes.

After the evening meal, he and some pals would plan time for canasta, cribbage, pitch, pinochle, whist… or whatever. When time was up, he went back to work. When he had downtime, he just loved it.

Now, I know I am being nostalgic, but I also am something else… I am outraged. Somewhere along the way, we gave up our freedom to be leisurely, in favor of getting the intangible “ahead”, whatever that means. My Dad did it… worked two and three jobs, and my mom did, too… They both worked and slaved to “get the better things in life”. They were sold the “bill of goods” that somehow we were “investing time” in order to have “more free time” later in life. Now some folks say they are living on borrowed time… but who did they borrow it from?

I am in rebellion. I am making time to do those things that make time fly and in the process, I hope to- at least at the really good parts- make time stand still. It seems the faster time passes, the less time we have left to enjoy it. Yet when there is time to reflect, it is the smallest moments in time that stand out, and the slow march of time is made just a little less intimidating.

If you put together some free time, don’t squander it. Don’t use it up frivolously. Time is the only ‘asset’ we have that cannot be invested, cannot turn a profit, cannot even truly be saved. Use it or lose it.
Spend it while you have it. Because when you run out, the clocks can’t make any more for you. I checked.

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