Time In a Throttle

Relatively speaking, Einstein was pure genius when he wrote that "the only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once." Think about it. Life is a procession of events and their order is how we know we're growing, learning, maturing...living.


And during all this time, Mary Oliver lets us peek into her contemplation:

"I know... how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?"


Read that last line again: "What is it you plan to do/With your one wild and precious life?" Doesn't a question like this relativize all the insanely unimportant things we get throttled over?


Locked in prison by Henry IV in Shakespeare’s Richard II, the title character gives a haunting speech about his hopeless fate. For me, one line has always stood out since we read this in our high school English class; tell me if it's not challenging and sobering for you, too:

“I wasted time,” Richard II says, “and now doth time waste me.”

I can sadly imagine someone on their deathbed railing with the regret of time misspent doing things that ultimately didn't matter.


And yet don't we hear people (ourselves) saying “I have an hour or so to kill” or talk of the "dead time" between tasks? How dangerously ironic. Why? Because time is the one that’s killing us. Each minute that passes is not just dead to us, it brings us closer to being dead. That’s what Richard II realizes in his prison cell. Only now is he realizing that each second that ticks by is a beat of his heart that he won’t get back, each ringing bell that marks the hour falls upon him like a blow.