I had a handsome clock on my living room wall. Loved that clock. But my front door has a broken spring and so, if I forget to tell visitors (which is normally), they’ll let that door close and BANG! and the clock falls down.
So far the pieces chipped have managed to be small enough to not really notice if you just glance at it. This last time, however, bigger pieces came off and there’s just no saving the clock.
I considered not replacing it because, really, we have clocks everywhere. Time is screaming in neon display from the cable box and the computer and the microwave and the coffee pot and my phone and tablet. It’s not like I have no idea what time it is.
Yet still, each morning, I am racing around and I glance on that empty wall five times or more, trying to see if I’m late or do I have time for one more Facebook game before work.
It occurred to me that not knowing the time is the culprit in many of our life’s clashes and problems, heart breaks and disappointments.
It’s all about the time.
We get ourselves into trouble again and again when we don’t know the time. When we deny it. When we refuse its heed. When we race ahead to a time we are not ready for. When we live in a time that has already passed.
What time is it for you?
I’ve seen 19 and 20-year-olds arrested for burglary because they didn’t accept that it was time to get a job. Heartbroken spouses hiding black eyes behind sun glasses or wearing long sleeves in the summer to cover up bruises because they couldn’t gather their strength when it was time to leave the relationship. People on the news in horrific mug shots after they drunkenly killed someone because they didn’t realize it was time to get help for their drinking problem. Headlines of politicians in high places now arrested for fraud or bribery or stealing because they didn’t recognize it was time to just be grateful. A family out on the street and living in their car or throwing themselves at the mercy of some friend or family member because they didn’t admit, in time, that they couldn’t afford their house payments. A young teen girl wants to jump ahead in time so she dresses like she’s in her twenties and gets involved with already-men who leave her pregnant in her sophomore year of high school. So many who leave ruins to today because they simply cannot accept that someone left them in the past, that something changed, that something happened. Years go by and no one comes and no one stays and nothing changes and nothing happens…
What time is it?
Is it time to get help? Is it time to step in? Is it time to let go? Is it time to get out? Is it time to finally hear? Is it time to finally forgive? Is it time to reach out? Is it time to choose differently? Is it time to try again?
What does your clock say?
There are always symptoms that our clocks are broken. It might be as glaring as our blood pressure numbers creeping up to tell us we are eating too much salt. It might be as obvious as our orange jumpsuit when we land in jail because we didn’t realize it was time to get a job instead of steal, to let her go instead of kill her, to accept his choices instead of stalking him….
But sometimes it’s not as glaring as my chipped and cracked clock on the floor of my living room….
Sometimes it’s just realizing that, out of the 100 things you do in a day, you don’t really love any of them. Or that person you love and have given everything to? They are nice and kind and generous and thoughtful to everyone…except you. Or maybe it’s that hidden, nagging jealousy when you see someone with more freedom to do as they choose. Free time in their lives while you still have seventeen more things to do and eleven more stops to make before you collapse tonight.
Maybe it’s just realizing that your bestie just rolled her eyes because you are, for the thousandth time, complaining about the same thing. Maybe you finally hear your spouse or partner saying they want to have some fun or they need to change things up.
There may be symptoms in the people you think you are giving everything to and yet are missing something important. Your 12 year-old daughter is wearing way-too-sexy clothes and texting late at night. Your husband, all of a sudden, has to travel for work and stay late at the office four nights a week. You realize that all you do is bitch and complain at every turn. You dread going to work every morning. You put off your doctor’s annual exam because you never did join the gym for New Year’s.
I know, in my own life, I hear the ticking of things I need to do. Things I need to change. Things that are uncomfortable. Things I’d rather not.
I’ve decided to start installing the phrase, “It’s time to….” in my every day. I know, right off the bat, it’s time to stop eating like I’m 23 years old and 120 pounds of energy and calorie-burning muscle. It’s time to stop working three jobs and make a road to return to my dream of being a writer, full-time. It’s time to sort through all the boxes I brought here when we sold my parents’ house and our farm and everything just got thrown into a dozen boxes and stored on a shelf now years ago.
It’s time. And time, in all her glory, keeps moving on. Our lives keep moving on. Moving towards their ends.
We can choose to do nothing about our dreams or about the things we want or no longer want. There will be more than enough reasons and rationalizations and everyone will get it. Everyone is busy. No one seems to have enough time in their days.
But it’s up to us. At the end of our time, what do we want our life stories to read like? What do we want them to say? To reflect back about our choices?
Only we can decide our time. Only we can decide how we fill it. We may make decisions or choose not to on behalf of people we love or people who come and go. We may lament that this or that is taking up so much. We may have built-in reasons for this choice or that. But, in the end, our life story will be the one that we wrote. Each year, each month, each week, each day. There won’t be anyone else to blame if our time was wasted. If it was frittered away. If it was disregarded or disrespected. If it was given to people or jobs that gave nothing good in return.
We can jump ahead in time. We can stay in the past of time. But our biggest life problems are so often the failure to realize what time it actually is and to honor that particular time. Each segment of time has its place, its noteworthy presence. It is hungry for our attention. It tugs at our shirt tails.
We can pull a cake out of the oven too soon. We can leave the lettuce in the fridge too long. We can forget to use that coupon before it expires. We can race to the bank to find it closed an hour earlier.
What time is it?
Our lives are spotted and splashed with remnants and reminders of instances when we had the wrong timing. People we loved, people we hurt, choices we made, chances we missed.
I went onto Amazon and ordered a new clock. It will get here this week. I want to know what time it is.