It’s not just the hours. The days slip right out from beneath me.
Clock says 11:00 a.m. Still a few precious hours before I go get the kids from school. These hours, the ones that belong to me, are tick tick ticking away. I walk past the clock, always eyeing it, jealously eyeing it. Suddenly I turn back, “Aha! Caught you!” But it reads 11:01. But next thing I know, as soon as I get interested and involved, the clock jumps ahead to 2:35. The last bell of school. I try to catch the clock in the act, its jumping past me in chunks just when I’m getting busy, but I can’t, in some Heisenbergish Prinicipal of mockery.
I am furious with the clock. I can’t beat it. It owns me. It makes me drive rakishly fast through town, curse lines in the grocery store, hate the vast quantities in my inbox that suck it down. I am especially perplexed when it vaporizes when I’m having fun, say, writing.
Time’s fun when you ‘re having flies, someone said.
I need to run that “Moving Clocks Run Slow” experiment, which I understand is a misnomer, but I don’t understand exactly why: A clock ticking in a supersonic jet lapses less time than a clock ticking down below, on Earth. This proved what Einstein intuited before we broke the sound barrier, that time is relative. Time is relative in the worst way. (You can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your relatives, another someone said.)
As my free time ticks into its vapor trail, I am filled with rage. Why can’t time flow normally, when I need it most? If I just continue speeding my way through the day, why doesn’t time run slow?
Incidently, the funniest subtitle ever goes to Albert Einstein’s book (1916), “Relativity: The Special and the General Theory, A Clear Explanation That Anyone Can Understand.”
Clearly, I don’t understand.
Time was timeless when I was little. Time stood still, but not in a good way, when I researched and helped write grants for MRI studies of diseased livers. The liver is a Very Boring Organ. Every time I looked at the clock in that particular job and willed it to just please jump ahead a few hours and put me out of my misery, its dials slunk around the clock’s blank face. That job was not good for my liver. After hours.
The clock seems not to be my friend. Everyone notices that as they get older that time seems to speed up. I was twistedly relieved to read a passage in Hope Edelman’s latest memoir, The Possibility of Everything, about how the ancient Mayans viewed time and understood that the future accelerates, that each coming segment of time gets shorter and shorter. You’d think the Mayans felt they had all the time in the world, at least until 2012.
Maybe the Mayans had a problem with time, like I do, except they didn’t have a mocking clock. Maybe the scribes were getting older when they wrote that bit on accelerating time.
Deepak Chopra assures us that “Time isn’t working against you. Everyone needs to overcome this outworn belief. We can stop giving in to time as if it rules our lives.” Really?
Deep’ takes it one step further: “If we force our own limited conception of time and deadlines upon ourselves we disrupt these rhythms and become a victim of time. Whatever breaks down your body’s timing, creates aging.”