What a strange thing time is. Moments hang in the air that seem to last for eons, yet they are surrounded by a thousand days that went by in a blur. We capture these little moments, the ones we try to hold on to when we are stuck in those blue periods. How strange it is that the one thing we really don’t have much of, yet waste at an excruciating level is time.
Trying to fall asleep last night, these numbers kept running through my mind. We spend 8 hours working, 8 hours sleeping, 1 hour getting ready for work, 1 hour cooking dinner and eating it, and an hour trying to get to work and home from work. That’s roughly 19/20 hours a day, that are just gone. Used up on things that we have to do. That leaves us a meager little 4 hours. 1/6th of the day. 4 simple hours to spend how we choose. With the people we love. Doing the things we want to. Being ourselves. Now many people fill that time with homework, gym time, television shows… so really, it’s more of that stuff… more of the same. More have to. More time wasted. (You can argue with me that your gym time isn’t wasted all you want, but please… just read between the lines and get the point).
It’s those moments in the 4 hours of the day that belong to you. What are you doing with them? Recently my husband’s grandfather was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. They’ve given him mere weeks to live. Now sure, he’s lived 86 wonderful years, but for each of us, they do come to an end. We are mere mortals.
A few years ago, I was able to go to Italy with my grandmother and my mom. I’ve never seen such a sparkle in my grandmother’s eyes as I did for MEAGER 8 days. She was exhausted. Her legs were swollen nearly to the point of no movement from all the travel. Yet she was glowing. She was living a dream. Why do we only get to do that in 8 day increments? How did that happen? Why do we only get 1/6th of the day?
Speaking to my grandfather the other day on the phone, listening to his deep gravely voice that I have heard thousands of times over again, I realized how it’s one of my favorite sounds in the whole world. Yet I only talk to him on the phone maybe once a month. How many more of those conversations do I have? Why are they only 1/5000th of my year?
Russell and I get on the motorcycle and ride down the beautiful country roads of Alabama. The fields are full of corn, and cotton and the air smells thick of magnolias and honey suckle. The view and the smell is intoxicating. The humid air clings to our skin as music pours from his speakers, my arms are out and I feel wildly alive. These moments. They’re mine. They’re memories. It could have already happened for the last time. I’m not promised tomorrow. I only have now. We only have now. What are you doing with it? Are you happy? Are you faithful? Are you just? Today you have 4 hours. Maybe. Have you inhaled the scent of your baby? Have you danced in the sprinklers with your 6 year old? Have you held hands with the person you promised your 4 hours to?
I walk through the cafeteria where I work. I am somehow surrounded by people that strangely enough look very similar to each other. The men are wearing khaki pants and white shirts with light blue pinstripes through them. They’re balding. They’re carrying a tray of food to a table where they’ll sit next to their carbon copies and eat. They look boring to me. Or bored. I’m not sure the difference anymore. The women are in capri pant suits. They’re floral. It’s bad. Pink lipstick and fluffy bangs and oversized gold jewelry. They sit together and gossip and talk about their church groups and diet fads. They watch television in their own rooms, away from their spouses and kids each night. They all have their own televisions. And iPhones. They eat individual dinners, at individual times as they run from ball practice to dance practice to violin practice to Girl Scouts. They’ve lost their 4 hours a day. It’s been sucked into a backdraft of fucking have to’s.
Saturday will roll around and I will wake to the sun streaming in my window and watch the geese play in the lake. He will be there, and rub my back and hips as he always does, and I will breathe in the scent of freedom. It smells like bacon and pancakes and possibilities. Somewhere in the middle. Somewhere there’s a break between what we have to do and what we want to do. All I know is I won’t be content until my time is at least split in half. But I will not settle for this 1/6th bullshit. It’s not enough, and it shouldn’t be for any of us.