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Some time

May 10, 2011
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

It’s a cruel fate, that which seals the human experience – time.

So much, yet so little; so intense yet so fleeting! Feelings versus time have become an epic battle in my mind!

Time is often viewed as the metaphor of a line. One can see time stretching out into the future, and dotted with events in our lives as we look back. One can either stand in time, or outside time.

When we exist in time, it is like standing in the highway of life. The traffic of time bears down on us as anticipated events grow nearer and bigger. The effect is often exaggerated by our position. This perspective is very subjective, because in this view, time merely happens to us:

The future is inevitable.

I can’t wait for my birthday.

I can’t wait until I’m sixteen and can get my license.

I believe as we get older and wiser, we are able to stand back and look at time from the outside in. This allows a more objective view of the time horizon, and allows a more balanced perspective:

Let’s step back and see what happens.

Take each day for what it has to offer.

Perhaps to look at time from the outside in, we can become limited by that time horizon. This may be constrained by current thinking or cognitive capacity. But, when we are able to look down on time, we can often see farther ahead by virtue of the metaphorical position:

Vacation is just around the corner.

This is hump day; my work week is already half done.

One way to better see the future is to stretch that visible line. Past, present or future can be very different to different people, and depend a lot on culture and upbringing. Some people are more focused on the future; optimists perhaps, while others are more focused on the past; pessimists or those unhappy with their current lot in life.

Some people, especially children and the less mature are more concerned with the here and now than on future events. These thoughts are manifest in instant gratification, and the thought that long term planning concerns events scheduled to happen this afternoon. These thoughts are even reflected in certain contemporary “time” idioms:

Live for today.

There is no time like the present.

Now is all there is.

Just do it.

When my kids were growing up, and exclaimed they couldn’t wait for Friday, or Christmas, or their birthday, I had this little saying I recited for them.

“Don’t wish your life away; take each day for what it has to offer. There will come a day when you’ll wish back all those days you wished away.”

For what it’s worth, I’m there now. Is it that I am now older and wiser? I don’t know for sure, but as I’ve already explained, my perspective on time has absolutely changed.

Time really is a malleable medium. It can seem to go fast, or appear to drag on. Of course now we are using another metaphor – that of speed.

It was a real drag.

This afternoon just raced by!

Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana. (I just had to say that!)

This malleability allows us to play with the perception of time. This can be quite entertaining, as well as very useful.

Metaphorical expressions find their way into our everyday language. Time as a valuable commodity is reflected as a metaphor in much of our common lexicon. Consider these:

Time is money.

You’re wasting my time.

I have no time to spare.

I’ve invested a lot of time in this relationship.

I’m running out of time.

You need to budget your time.

We understand from experience that time can be spent, wasted, budgeted, invested wisely, or squandered. Time is money, time is a valuable commodity, and time is a precious resource, are all metaphorical concepts.

People come into our lives, at times, at the exact time we need them. There is a universal power that trumps all, and that is love. Evil can exist, chaos can exist, but ultimately love wins.

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in your mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function. One should for example be able to see that things are hopeless yet be determined to make them otherwise.

Many times in life things happen to us that are intended to be a lesson. Sometimes you can’t see your reflection in a mirror because the hot shower has steamed it up. You wipe at the mirror with your hand and begin to catch glimpses of yourself. Not enough to get the entire image, but enough to recognize it is you. Once the fog has lifted and the steam is gone, you get the complete image

Words are merely two dimensional representations of a multifaceted reality. That reality is complex, dimensional, based in time. The words are merely a map of what was or what is to be.

I look at my word count, and realize once again time has robbed us. It is time to spell check this document and get it sent to my editor. There are some pressing spring things which require my time.

Until next time--

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In to the Wind and this column are copyright 2011 Mike Gilchrist. Readers, feel free to contact me at via email, or write to me at P.O. Box 255, Toledo, IA 52342

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