Life stories can be written many ways. In the following story I include several vignettes from my life but also inject some fun observations on the passage of time. Telling about the incident of being late to meet my boyfriend because I was doing an experiment in a college chemistry lab shows details of our relationship and perhaps insights into my personality. You’ve heard the writing tip, Show Don’t Tell… here is my example of that:
Stuck in Time
When I was a kid bored in class, I escaped by reading a book under the edge of my desk. Books worked for me as I once again got lost in my own little world where time stands still. But during one such escape my shoulder was tapped and I looked up to an empty classroom and the bemused face of my teacher. She confiscated my book as my feet hit the floor joining the march of time as I headed to the next class. Late. Again.
God is eternal, not bound by time constraints, while the mere mortals He created are stuck firmly in time, always looking over our shoulders at things past or towards the future in worry or eagerness. Is this a celestial joke, with the constraints of time restricting our freedom to enjoy the moment? Sometimes I feel like one of my feet is unstuck. One foot is firmly stuck in time, but does the other flailing foot allow my head to be in the clouds, lost in my imagination, so involved in the moment that my clock stops ticking? That unstuck foot is forever causing me problems, tripping me up.
As the years sailed by, my life was often suspended in the imaginary world of yet another book, another flight of fancy. I’ve learned to compensate. I can make it to appointments on time; can honor commitments to people and not rudely make them wait while I clamber back into their time zone. Is that my husband snorting in the background? He’s no doubt remembering the time I stood him up because I was too busy setting the air on fire in my chemistry lab. Okay, so I had a learning curve. Years ago when we were dating I had agreed to meet him on the steps of the chemistry building. He was adamant about the time but wouldn’t tell me why and annoyed me with his repeated reminders. Be there, don’t forget!
When I am involved in a project everything else fades away. I was juggling an intricate apparatus with my lab partner, a geeky guy with dark curls and wire frame glasses. We were trying to get some corks to seal our tubes before we released some fumes into them from our beaker. He painstakingly weighed the powder we were supposed to mix over a Bunsen burner. I added some liquid. Gosh I wonder what that was! We both leaped back as the mysterious invisible fumes bypassed our tubes and burst into flames inches from our faces. Instinctively we both checked our foreheads to feel for our eyebrows and stifled nervous giggles as the professor walked down the aisle to see what the commotion was about. That was when I glanced up at the clock, threw my stuff into my bag, an apology over my shoulder and ran for the exit.
My sweet guy was hunched over on the steps watching the sun sink behind the building across the street. How was I supposed to know that he had planned for us to climb to the top of the bleachers in the old football stadium? It was a special place we shared, the place where we first fell in love. How was I supposed to know he had planned to watch the sunset up there with me? How was I supposed to know that he had a diamond ring in his pocket that he wanted to give me as the sun sank beneath the tree line and that now he sat there trying to figure out plan B? I ran down the steps. “Sorry I’m late, but I had to finish my experiment, I was flubbing up and set some fumes on fire.” “Uh, right in front of my face,” I added hoping his concern for my safety would trump his disappoint. He is a patient sort. We ended up going out to eat and he did give me that ring. So hey, it turned out alright! Time marches on with or without me.
Years later after I married that patient guy (no, I wasn’t late for my wedding!) I lucked upon a job where I worked from my home. I had a required number of reports to produce each day, but my time was my own. I spaced out at will, surfed the web, read a book, took flights of fancy with no boss looking over my shoulder. As long as I got my work done by the end of the day it didn’t matter where I went, my boss never knew how convoluted the path. On glorious sunny days I suspended my work day, switched to full escape mode and went for a walk. Minutes snuck by unnoticed as I meandered among a stand of trees looking for buckeyes. The dark brown nuggets gleamed in the sunshine before filling my pockets. The sunlight filtered through the leaves and time stood still as I relished my escape.
So many phrases try to capture the tyrant time. Time stands still, time is fleeting, you kill time, yearn for the time that has gone by or is still to come. Time is of the essence, time can be the enemy, passing by too quickly for all I want to accomplish. However I view time, happy in my moment, dreading its passage or wishing I could revisit the past, I am forever swept along like a piece of driftwood, riding the current, always moving toward the day I die. Ultimately there is no escape, but I can enjoy the ride!
So many books to read, buckeyes to find, meanders to make, delightful escapes all, but my computer calls. My work day marches on, I’d better reenter my time zone and get back to work! Is there someplace else I’m supposed to be?