For being a totally artificial construct, time certainly can beguile us.
Lead us into a false sense of security when there seems to be plenty of “time-to-spare.” Yet place us in a state of sheer panic if time has “escaped us.” Particularly for workplace deadlines. Or when we’re dashing across the airport terminal trying to catch that connecting flight. Or maybe when we’re counting the seconds between the contractions a mother endures during childbirth.
A new life blooms that will soon be “ticking away” the hours.
Time can be an adjective, as when an activity is “timed.” A verb, when “timing” something. But mainly a noun, that can allure, bewitch, captivate, enchant, and even kill. Yes kill, and I don’t mean in the sense of “killing time.”
I’ll come back around to that before you can “call it a day.” 😉
Indeed, we’ve all heard and used the expressions that “time flies.” “It’s high time” or was it a “high old time?” He was “ahead of his time.” “Third time’s a charm.” She serving “hard time.” Do you think he can “beat the clock?” She’s a “good-time girl.” “Double time.” “The eleventh hour.” “Making up for lost time.” “In the nick of time.” “Around the clock.” “Buy some time.” “In one stroke.” “Not born yesterday.” “Not on my watch.” “Miller time.” “Bide your time.” “Time out.” “Better luck next time.” “Record time.” And more ominously, it’s “payback time.”
It’s all “a question of time.”
We speak of time as an independent entity beyond our control, but also act as though we have total control, so we can “bank time” for a rainy day. Or convert it to something else like “time is money.”
Time is also apparently “the wisest counselor” or “best teacher.” And we should all “get the most out of our time.”
Why all this talk about time?
Well most of us began the week by switching our clocks back an hour. Back to “real time.” Before that, we were running on “daylight savings time,” where we had advanced our clocks by an hour to supposedly lengthen the day. Of course, no daylight was “saved” and no day was “lengthened.” Or changed in any way for that matter.
The amount of daylight each day is fixed by the Sun’s rotation and its relative position to the Earth. We have no control over it. We can only control how we label it. Is 8 O’clock or 9 O’clock? Does it matter?
For me, it didn’t matter at all.
I changed my clocks in mid-afternoon on Tuesday after a friend asked if I remembered the “time change.” “Why of course,” I said, as I simultaneously rotated the hands on my clock backwards.
I suppose some folks did catch an extra hour of sleep with our little charade. But for those of us with no schedule to keep it made little difference.
The real killer, quite literally, comes in the Spring when we push those hour hands forward. It seems, that the loss of just one hour of sleep so stresses the human body that the incidence of heart attacks spikes twenty-four percent higher than normal on that fateful day.
“Spring forward” indeed.
And it’s not only heart attacks. There is an increase in traffic accidents, workplace injuries, bad mood, and reduced productivity. This “stitch in time” (or maybe it’s an un-stitching) increases the rate of strokes by eight percent overall. People with cancer are twenty-five percent more likely to have a stroke with the time change, and those over the age of 65 are twenty percent more likely stroke out with the turning of the dial.
So yes, we might be able to “kill time,” but time can kill us as well.
I can just see a good murder plot flowing from this. (“Time is like a river.”) In an attempt to kill her “two-timing” spouse, his wife simply sets the clock an hour ahead while her cheating husband sleeps. Upon waking, he’s so stressed, he keels right over. She just “kills” a little more time before calling the paramedics . . .
While I think it’s a bit of a stretch to think we can manipulate time, I do like using it as a reference point. Particularly, “geological time,” where we can examine the immense global changes that have happened over billions of years in a way we can understand and give relevance to.
On a personal level, I’ve always considered “our time” to be the most precious gift we can share with someone. And I thank those who share their time with me. Thank you !
“Even though you seize it, it will still flee; therefore you must vie with time’s swiftness in the speed of using it, and, as from a torrent that rushes by and will not always flow, you must drink quickly.” ― Seneca, On the Shortness of Life
Photo: Well, it never hurts to have a sense of humor, even around a serious warning. 🙂 I was surprised to learn that more people die in this national park every year from downing than from bear attacks. Not that I thought bear attacks were frequent, I just didn’t get where all the drowning was occurring.