I have updated this piece since it was first published at 3:30 pm. Perhaps you have a few seconds:
If life happened in a day, and Einstein is horrifically more accurate than we would like, then let’s make a 6 am sunrise birth and place death around a 9pm sunset. I’ve always preferred summers for the extended daylight hours.
And if we break a life of ninety years (I’m an optimist) into a day, we live about six years an hour, or a year every ten minutes. Goes fast doesn’t it? In fact, my clock reads 4:20 pm. School’s out, lunch has been made, eaten, and cleaned up, and the morning hours are so long ago I barely recall them anymore.
If life happened in a day, we’d make sure we didn’t miss much, no matter the weather or how tired we are. We’d call our closest companions and ask them to join us—we’d go through this together. It is too bad we can’t do this again, we’d admit. I don’t want to miss any of it, we’d say, suddenly aware of how fast time goes by, how many moments we let slip away. In fact, just talking about the fleeting morning might make us miss those hours of the day’s youth when discovery is ripe and exploration is new. Those hours of life when no one but us has yet discovered the forest out back, the rapids in the creek down the road, or the view from the bent branches of a birch.
Looking back at my own day, around 10 am I lived in Massachusetts in a yellow house next to a reservoir. It was a quaint village surrounded by a larger town, and across the street was a small post office and an antique store. Just up the winding road was an apple orchard where I bought bags of apples and where my neighbor the postmaster would buy me an apple pie for shoveling her driveway. I loved then, and I often talk about how I wish it was 10am again, and I again was leaving work to head to the mountain to hike to the summit to see kettles of hawks.
Just an hour later, I was gone, living in a different latitude and finding myself finding myself once again. Love was easier than it should be and shorter than I had hoped, and the lessons learned so late in the morning stole my energy for a while. Exhaustion isn’t always because of age; sometimes it is momentum. But time passes. I’d give the next six hours to have a few minutes back, but we can’t. We must look forward. If I spend too much time regretting what happened at 11 this morning I’ll blow right through the afternoon without noticing the way the light of the sun can bring everything to life.
At noon I walked to the river with my son on my shoulders, and we laughed our way through the early afternoon, hiking through woods and eventually continents. It was just about three this afternoon we trained across Siberia, and ten minutes later hiked across Spain. If my clock battery broke between three and four, I’d consider myself a lucky man.
What a day it has been so far. I can’t recall a single hour of my life I’d not do again. From sunrise on I’ve had a great time trying to stay one clip in front of the bend, with golden moments I couldn’t have scripted myself. Maybe that’s why the day seems so fast—I’m really having a great time.
Did you ever stop and just recall a moment from years ago like it had just happened, just now? I mean so that you can taste the meal and smell where you were, feel it, so real like it just happened, just now, but it didn’t. That happened to me today, over and over and over, and now it is 4:20, and it is happening again. Thank God happy hour is so close; I need a drink.
Tonight, from 6 to 9, I’m going to take my time and do the best I can. I’m going to wander, both literally and metaphorically, until I run out of time. Want to come?
What time is it in your world?