A Brief Discussion of Time

It seems like we are always chasing time, sometimes quite literally.

In the lead-up to the latest solar eclipse, stories abounded about “eclipse chasers.” These are people who travel thousands of miles in quest of being on the path of totality during solar eclipses.  A common refrain for many of these chasers is that there is nothing else in the world like the descent of darkness. Some say it is “as though time stands still.”

Abdicating time to external forces is a natural fallback for many of us. We talk about “not having enough time in the day” as if others are in control of how we allocate the use of the minutes, hours and years we are granted here on earth.

Time may be a limited element of physics, but how we spend it isn’t. As noted physicist and author, Stephen Hawking explains: “Time and space are finite in extent, but they don’t have any boundary or edge.” Hawking suffers from a debilitating condition, ALS, which struck him as a youth. Neither Hawking’s contributions to comprehending the universe nor use of his time have been bound by his circumstances.

Daily we hear folks (and ourselves) complain about not having enough time, or that we are chasing time. A widely shared plaint, but it is hard to be entirely sympathetic, since we are equally charged with time management.

A Matter of Choice
An article in a hometown newspaper caught my attention years ago. It was about the death of a young woman who died in an auto wreck. The story carried some of the pastor’s remarks made during the funeral. A straight “A” student, the woman earned a full ride to college, and spent years of her young life volunteering for many causes. She was a loving daughter, sister, musician and tutor—all acts that demonstrated her generous spirit. She lived her life well.

None of us share the same health, security, capacity or lifespan; but by midnight on any given day we will have shared the same 24 hours. When we surrender to others the power for managing this time, not only do we cede a measure of control, we also place the assessment of our progress in the hands of those who call our tune.

All of us carry personal limitations and new problems to field with plenty of reasons for lacking enough time to meet expectations. Yet as conditions change, whether by accident or by the decisions of others, we always retain responsibility for our own choices. In the end, we are stewards of our own time.

Invest Wisely
As noted in the pastor’s eulogy: “At the end of the day, it isn’t how long of a life we have, but how well our life is lived.” Our challenge is to minimize occasions where we want to throw up our hands in frustration, using these experiences to reflect on with how we can invest wisely in the time we have been given. It is helpful to call upon our elders’ counsel and remember that even when darkness descends, it is not the end of the world.

“Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.”  Peter Drucker

Phtoto Credit: NASA