A Lament

clockbird

When exactly did time become the enemy?

I remember the long lazy days of summer from my childhood. Days stretched on and on; months had no end in sight. They stretched beyond the horizon. I have a vivid memory from when I was six years old. I was in school and we were drawing pictures to celebrate the New Year. It was the dawn of 1964. I was enthralled by the thought that a year had passed since the last New Year celebration. I was totally convinced that this special event was a rarity. I felt honored that I was there to celebrate such an auspiscious event.

As I progressed from childhood, where time was an endless gift, to the rocky teenage years, time became a curse. As with most adolescents I could not grow up fast enough. I felt trapped. First I longed for the time when I would be old enough to be left home alone, unsupervised. Next I longed for the time when I would be old enough to drive. Driving was an adult activity. Driving was freedom. The final mark of adulthood was drinking and going to bars. As an angst driven teenager, I felt I would never achieve that final adult status. The hours on the clock ticked by at a snail’s pace; the pages on the calendar were stuck, failing to turn.

Finally in my long-awaited adulthood, the awkward teens safely behind me, time once again became my friend. I felt I had it all. The world was full of endless possibilities, which I could tackle at a time of my choosing. My twenties turned into my thirties. The dreaded celebration of turning thirty stood as a milestone, a hint that time was a fickle friend.

In a blink of an eye my thirties turned into my forties. For the first time in my life I was looking back, longing for the lost days of my younger years. I longed to put the brakes on time, to somehow slow the now racing hands of the clock. I needed the opportunity to linger over the events in my life. Instead I was rewarded with only flashing images. Images of my son struggling to learn how to read, mixed with images of him learning how to drive. I wanted to warn him. I wanted to tell him to slow down and to not waste the precious youth that he carried as a burden.

Now as my fifties are quickly sliding into my sixties, I realize that it has happened. Time has become the enemy. Time is a thief. It steals. It steals family. It steals friends. It has stolen beloved pets. Time is no longer gentle. It is full of harsh realities. It no longer stretches to infinity. It is finite.

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