Time.

It’s not a “thing,” yet it’s one of the most important “things” in our lives.

There’s no price tag on it, but if you play your cards right, you can buy time.

And although there’s no price tag on it, if you misuse it, it can really cost you.

Some people are ruled by time, me being one of them. I cannot bear to leave the house without wearing a wristwatch, and the few times in a given year that I forget, I spend the entire day gazing balefully at my freckled, pale, naked wrist. I still will never understand those folks who say, “I no longer need a watch, I have my phone.” Maybe I’m not getting it, but I think it would be a little bulky to strap a phone to my wrist, and it would certainly get in the way of a long-sleeved sweater. But those are the folks who cannot go anywhere, wake up, brush their teeth, eat a meal, or have a conversation without their phone next to them.

Yes, people today are indeed attached in so many ways to their phones that it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to one day see a flip phone or iPhone 13 dangling from the end of a sleeve. Linus and his blanket have nothing on them.

When I was in junior high, the 30 minutes that occupied the half hour from 2:45 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. when the bell rang and school was over for another day, were interminable. No way could that have actually been only 30 minutes because it seemed to last forever. Funny isn’t it that the older you get, the faster time goes? You meet a friend on the street whom you haven’t seen in a while and ask how their new baby grandson is doing. “Oh, Andrew?” they reply with a smile, “We just had his third birthday party.” Yup, that’s how it is.

What about songs about time? Songs with titles like, “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?,” “One Moment in Time,” “Just in Time,” “I Didn’t Know what Time It Was,” “Time in a Bottle,” “Time is On My Side.” We could go on and on. I’m sure you could add a bunch more because there’s literally hundreds of songs dealing with the concept of time.

Time is indeed a concept, but somehow along the way we have made it into a thing.

Ask someone who has been diagnosed with a serious illness, and they almost all will say, “I wish I had time to....” These people are the exact opposite of those who say, “Oh, I can’t wait!”(for the weekend, for Friday, my birthday, vacation, Christmas). Of course they can wait and do wait because nothing speeds up the duration of a minute, an hour, or days. Nothing changes that except our age and our mindset.

Perhaps it is those who have a serious illness to whom we should take the time to listen. They don’t want time to fly. They long for a Friday, their next birthday, vacation, or Christmas and hope they’ll get there. They are quite willing to wait because as they’re waiting, they see and hear things the rest of us don’t. I know a professional man in town who has had cancer for some 12 years now. He wasn’t supposed to still be here, but gloriously, he is. He told me once that during the first and worst days of chemo when he was violently ill and feeling hopeless, he would sit on the deck of his home and listen to the birds. Within a short time, he knew the specific calls and individual sounds of each bird and delighted in challenging himself to identify them. This took his mind off the way he was feeling for a time, and instead of turning inward, he embraced what was out there, and so, he kept going.

That’s the key, I guess. To keep going, to treat every minute of every day as though it might be the last because it could be. Ah, but when it’s not, and we’re given the gift of yet another sunrise, it is something to be celebrated. Not wished away looking for something better. Of course, you’ll never convince that child in school staring at the clock that time is a gift, but they’ll grow up soon enough.

Then they’ll know what we all know.

Rona Mann has been a freelance writer for The Sun for 20 years, including her “In Their Shoes” features. She can be reached at six07co@att.net or 401-539-7762.

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