Dad’s been mentioning time a lot recently. It’s in his emails. Says it in passing. Feels like he’s running out of time. Uses it as an excuse, well more of an explanation as to why he’s doing something or why he’s not doing something. All because of time. But he’s only 66. Works a full-time job with no desire to retire. Plays tennis a few times a week. He’s not on his deathbed, he’s not sick, he just keeps thinking about time.
Living in New York City, we’re constantly reminded that nobody has time for anything, No one has time for a relationship, to have kids, to look for a new job even though they hate their current one, to date, to cook, to workout, to search for a new apartment, to start that project that they were really excited to talk to you about seven months ago. Sweet Brown is right. We have so many things we want to do and so many things we have to do that the one thing that we share is the lack of time to do it all. Only if we had more time.
But since the beginning, time has not changed. All the greats who achieved world changing feats had the same amount of time in a day, in a week, in a month, in a year that we have now. Yet we complain we don’t have enough of it. So frustrated with our shared feelings of having a lack of time we turn to any combination of Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram to express our frustration only to spend time checking to see if people who also feel like there’s not enough time agreed or disagreed via Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram.
Don’t waste my time.
I ain’t got time for all that.
We’ll freely waste money on things we don’t need, that we know are not good for us but make us feel good. Momentarily. We may regret it but we’ll get over it. Likely, if you’re lucky, that money you spent will come back. But time when gone is gone forever. It don’t come back. Ever. People express their hatred of waiting as if it’s a profound or unique thing. If there’s someone who enjoys waiting in lines and being stuck in traffic please send them my way, would love to meet them. So we tell others to be patient when they don’t get what they want when they want. That good things come to those who wait.
I don’t do lines.
I hate waiting.
But we make people wait all the time. We’ll cancel plans last minute. We’ll lie and say we’re nearby when we’ve just left to get there. On my way! From where? Just text them to let them know we’re running late, let’s not rush, they’re probably running late too. Running late. Funny phrase. We’re awful at waiting but great at making others wait. And so you wait. Cause are you really going to leave? They know you won’t. It took so much time to schedule this dinner/coffee/drinks/brunch with your equally busy friends. And so you wait, looking at your phone, getting more upset as every single minute passes. You check to see if they’ve Tweeted or Instagrammed while you’ve been waiting. You feel like an idiot, you feel like everyone is staring at the idiot waiting alone. You feel like this has been a waste of time. But then they arrive. And you tell yourself not to be upset. They must have a good excuse. Then you think that it doesn’t matter what the excuse is, that it’s wrong to be late, to make someone wait when you all agreed on a set time. But they’ll briskly make their way towards you, flash a smile, apologize, give you an explanation, and even though you know it’s wrong, you’ll just blurt out, “It’s OK.” Because you tell yourself that it’s a waste of time to argue about how they’ve wasted your time.
What if we looked at time as not yours or mine but ours. Don’t mean to waste your time. Don’t waste my time. No. Don’t waste our time. The time that we all have right now. We share this. There are people who will live and die not having any money. Ever. But they will have lived and experienced time. No matter how short or long they lived, they shared their time with us. Doesn’t matter if we knew them. And that time is what we shared. That’s what connects all of us. That time.
I used to think that we were supposed to do things, to experience things, to go places to create memories. Take pics. Remember so that we can share stories later. But now I know that memories fade. I look at pics I took and don’t remember the names of the faces or the beaches on them. You forget things. You make up things. The memories you tried so hard to curate to frame on your memory wall may completely disappear. It’s not about now for later. It’s now for now. While you still can. While you still have the time.
Mom told me the story of a friend of the family in Little Rock who worked minimum wage jobs. My parents would often invite the friend and his family over for dinner. She said they were always kind and gracious. The friend decided to leave Little Rock recently and took my parents out to dinner. My parents insisted on paying for their share of the bill but the friend refused and wouldn’t allow them. “I didn’t care about the money,” mom said. “I kept thinking about how many hours he had to work to pay for the meal. He wasn’t giving us his money, he was giving us hours of his life, he was giving us a part of his life.”
Dad spends a lot of time gardening now. Or at least spending time in the backyard watching the garden and tending to the garden. Rabbits seem to get at everything that grows. He refuses to use poison to rid of them. Every contraption seems to fail. He finds it slightly humorous. When I visit my parent’s home I watch my dad alone in the back watching the garden. Time seems to stand still. He must see the plants growing, little by little, day by day. They planted an avocado seed once after they ate one just because. They plant the seeds, some things grow, some things die, some things get eaten. Maybe it’s out there that he thinks about time. The time he’s spent. The time he’s got left. And I remain inside, looking out the window, spending time thinking about whether he’s thinking about time.
It’s our time together.
And thank you for your time.