I was recently, this morning in fact, sitting in the restroom of a local hipster vegetarian restaurant having breakfast with a colleague. Whilst I was a-perch, so to speak, I was reading the many clever graffiti writings on the wall, left by individuals with enough foresight to ensure they have colorful magic markers whenever they visit public toilets.
One of the writings stood out. “Time does not exist — clocks exist.” Oh honey, I thought, that’s a nice idea, but I’m pretty sure by the evidence I see when I look in the mirror that time actually, indeed, like-it-or-not, exists. I’m not sure how old, or young, this writer was, but I’m willing to put money on her not being on the downhill side of fifty, as am I.
Time not only exists, but it inserts itself into our lives every day, sometimes subtly, sometimes with a heavy blow. Time steals our children away from us. Once tiny babies we could hold and cuddle and keep with us, time lengthens their bodies, broadens their minds, and tells them when they need to leave us to inhabit their own worlds far away from us.
Time steals our own bodies, joint by joint, limb by limb. Time shrinks our spines and curves our backs and creases our skin. Time steals our chestnut browns and auburns and golden blonds and gives us grays instead.
Time steals our families. It takes our parents away, sometimes earlier and sometimes later, but it takes them in the end no matter what. It takes our grandparents, and our beloved aunties and uncles, and then our brothers and sisters. And it will take us too, or what is left of us when we get to the end of, not time itself, but our time.
Obviously any career in motivational speaking is one I should avoid, but there is another side to this awareness about time. And no, it didn’t all happen while I was in the toilet.
It is this. While time does run out for us all, it hasn’t done so yet. We still have some time. We still have time to take a breath of cool morning air and then let it out. We still have time to tell someone we love how much they mean to us. We still have time to shake the cobwebs out of our brains and do something we really want to do.
We have time to try something new, screw it up, and try again. We have time to ask someone to forgive us, and to forgive someone else. We have time to feel really stupid about something we said, and then get over it. We have time to learn to love our bodies, our inappropriate sense of humor, maybe even our in-laws.
The tricky thing about time is that we are all given an unequal amount of it, and it can decide in a second that your time has run out. There are no guarantees with time. You truly can be here this minute and gone in five more.
So the question is, what do you want to do with this little space in time right here, right now? Ah! Too late, that one is gone, but here’s another. Do something with it.
Chris Lewis, Ed.S., LPC, is a therapist who specializes in individual, family, and couples and marriage counseling in Denver, CO. She provides services through Maria Droste Counseling Center.