We kept looking at the clocks — the clocks
on the walls, the clocks in our cars, the clocks
on our wrists — as if those mechanical devices
somehow represented all of the time which we had
each been apportioned in our timely lives, neatly
impersonalized into hours, minutes, and seconds.
We were anxious to see if whatever was going to be
would be on time, or if time itself would suddenly run out,
cruelly dashing our hopes, like a favored race horse
collapsing just before reaching the finish line.
When the digital clocks arrived on the scene
we immediately became more precise in the way
we divided up our night and day — we could stare
in awe at the mystical coincidence of the elevens,
or instantly know by the glow near our bed
if the electricity was still on, or the power
had secretly gone out while we slept.
At 3:33 there are some who wake up
but can’t say why — perhaps that’s when
time has some fun and plays with our heads.
Philosophers and physicists all conceive big ideas
about time, based on whatever the mind can dream up,
but planting those imaginative flowers in the air
will merely yield more floral air.
Some people talk about time well spent, as if
time is some kind of currency we can exchange
for desirable experiences, but then if we’re told
we’ve wasted our time, we tend to feel disappointed.
An old teacher of mine claimed that wasting time
“conscientiously” was the way to live one’s life,
and although that sounds reasonable enough,
where does all of that wasted time end up
when it fails to be properly spent?
Stuck in the past, hopeful for the future, being
in the present — nothing but empty mind states!
Spring ahead, fall backward —
such a clumsy bother!
If we ever come round again to where we began,
we’ll realize that we have gone nowhere at all
in the time it has taken to get there.