I finished reading a Jeffrey Deaver novel last night, titled Cold Moon. It is a convoluted and complex suspense story. But, underneath that story is another. That sub-story is about time. How we define it, its history, and a great deal about how we use it and think about it.
I found several quotes in the book that interested me. This one is probably my favorite of all of them:
Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils.
__Louis H. Berlioz
Because of the truth in that statement, I think most of us, on some level, are obsessed with time: wanting more of it, wanting it to pass more quickly, yet sometimes wishing that it would stand still. Critical of wasting it and those who seem to have too much of it on their hands, while praising that individual who uses it wisely on a regular basis. Constantly seeking ways to fill it for fear it will pass us by without a second chance to rewind it or have it again, we seem to forget that time is an invention of the human species and we have all become captives of its relentless march toward our own inevitable ending. I think we’d all like to forget that reality, and yet we have strapped it to our wrists as a constant reminder.
David Cook’s first recorded song as season seven’s American Idol was This Is The Time. Although it had a great many detractors, it is about how we all wish for a life with meaning and purpose. Grabbing the moment and succeeding at whatever we choose to do with it. Making the most of the moments we have been given, just as Cook himself has done, like those before him and others who will come after to a greater or lesser degree.
Deaver seems to have something to say about all of it. The ‘bad’ guy in his book calls himself The Watchmaker. And Deaver makes a very pointed comment about his person later on in the book:
More and more his passion for planning and order took on the role of lover. And like anyone who substitutes an obsession for a real relationship, Hale found himself looking for more intense ways to satisfy himself.
I think Deaver might be warning all of us about our obsession with time. If our real goal is to fill it, we could end up marching right past and through it and never actually living in the moments we are allotted. Instead of celebrating this time that we do have, we might simply be filling it with the debris of busyness that lacks meaning and purpose.
I have written about how each of us has a message that needs to be shared with our world. That message is a piece of truth that others need to know, but won’t unless we live it out loud as David Cook suggests in his song. There are those that believe we will get another chance to come back and do it better the next time around. There are just as many, if not more, that grasp the possibility that we won’t get that chance.
There is a Zen practice known as being present in the moment. Most of us spend far more time in the past, or thinking about the future. Both of which could be seen as a waste of time, and especially of the present moment. What, if anything, do you do to stay present to this moment, this now?
Obviously I write daily journal pages. That is one of the ways I attempt to stay inside the present, but there are many others. One of them is a question from the AA program. Occasionally asking one self how important this activity or situation will be in five years, can be a real eye opener if the question is answered honestly and with some amount of thought. Will there be regrets and can I accept and live with them, is another. Who will benefit, is also an important question. If the answer is too often, ‘only myself,” you might be in the same loop as The Watchmaker of Deaver’s fiction.
I think we are all watchmakers, creating our own personal time pieces with each moment and with every choice. Writing our story, whether or not we ever actually pick up a pen or type on a computer. Living out loud through our actions, or lack of them, on a moment by moment and daily basis. What are you making? A cheap piece that can be disposed of and replaced easily, or something exquisite and worth celebrating?
This is our time, this moment is the only one we truly have. Are you present to it, and making it better for your being there?