I Am Killing Time While Time is Killing Me
You don’t have time to read this and I don’t have time to write this. I don’t have time to do anything I want to do because I am too busy doing things I have to do – or too busy doing the things I want to do that I don’t have time to do the things I need to do. It’s all about time.
It seems I’m always killing time, wasting it, and running out of it. Someday I won’t have to worry about time. I’ll have plenty of it – or none of it. Time exists only as long as I am alive to perceive it.
It’s funny… while I’m busy killing time, time is killing me.
I stand on a rocky beach and watch the sun go down. Quietly lapping the sandy shore, the waves of water swirl up on the beach in melting, silver, glassy swells. Staring at them makes me dizzy. I stare at them anyway. The sky, streaked with shades of red, grows darker as the final minutes of the day tick away. Tick, tick, tick, tick.
Another day in my life ends on some deserted and unimportant beach, in this tiny, forgotten, corner of the incomprehensibly vast universe – a universe so vast it hurts to contemplate it. I do it anyway and my head hurts. It’s just a dream, I think – and we always have time to dream, don’t we?
The first rays of morning light jolt me. I get up. I have lots of things to do today. I have so much to do that I really don’t have time to wait for the coffee to brew. I wait anyway. I have some time to kill while the coffee brews. I fiddle with the box of coffee filters – putting it away slowly – anything to kill time until the coffee is done. Three minutes is a long time to wait when you’re waiting. Waiting for coffee, waiting for the doctor, waiting for the phone to ring…
Three minutes go by too quickly though when you’re in the company of someone special. Time is relative.
“Time is too slow for those who wait / Too swift for those who fear/ Too long for those who grieve / Too short for those who rejoice / But for those who love, time is eternity.” (Henry Van Dyke)
Although none of us have much time – or enough time – we spend an awful lot of time killing it. It occurs to me that while I’m killing time, time is killing me. I can’t think of anything else to do but smile. Tears won’t change anything. So, I kill time waiting for the coffee to finish brewing.
When the coffee is finally ready to drink, I don’t have time to drink it. I take a hot cup of it to a place I call my office. I’ve decided to try to drink it while I work. I have so much work to do I don’t know where to start. I waste time thinking about all the work there is to do. While I’m thinking about all the work there is to do, I am drinking the coffee that I don’t have time to drink. It is already cold.
Now I waste more time and walk back into the kitchen and get more coffee and I can drink it while it’s still hot.
When I come back to my office I am reminded of how much I have to do today – so much work – so little time – and I’m killing too much time – and nothing is getting done.
At least the coffee is hot. I drink it while I think about where to begin. So far, this morning, I have done nothing but make coffee, drink coffee, and walk back and forth between my office and the kitchen. I don’t know where to start- there’s too much I need to do, too much I want to do, and not enough time to do the things I want and need to do. I finish the coffee and go get another cup. I think I’m addicted to coffee, but there are worse things. I’ll think about that some more when I get time. I laugh at myself. I’m so funny.
While on the way to the kitchen I look at my watch and notice how much time I have wasted. An hour ago I was wasting time waiting three minutes for a cup of coffee. An hour has passed and nothing has gotten done but the coffee.
So, I pour another cup and wonder if it is good for my blood pressure or not. I make a mental note to look that up when I get time. I laugh at myself again. I’m such an amusing guy. I’ll never remember my mental note – I don’t remember anything unless I write it down.
I feel like taking a walk to clear my mind. I have so much work to do today, a good walk would help me sort it all out. The sun is up, the sky is blue, and it is getting warm. It’s a nice day. The birds aren’t working they’re wasting time singing. I can hear them. Chirp, chirp, chirp. Their songs make tell me that it isn’t winter anymore. Seasons die and are born again and now it’s almost spring – by the weather – by the calendar – by the clock.
I’m frightened by that thought for a second. It is really almost spring – officially. Where did it come from? It seems just a day or two ago it was the middle of January, and minus 3 – no birds singing then. The sun has sneaked up on the equator and scientifically, when it crosses it, we’ll officially have spring.
That dazzles me. I can picture it all in my head. I conceptualize that imaginary line encircling the globe that sits gathering dust in my tiny office. I wonder who found the time to decide to put the equator on the globe. I wonder how they figured out where the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn are. And why do we need them?
I wonder who has that kind of time? It must have taken a lot of time to figure out all that stuff – and draw all those perfect circles around the ellipse that we call Earth. I wonder why I even have a globe in my office – I never look at it. Well, yes, I’m looking now because I’m just killing time. Looking at things is a good way to kill time.
Looking at the television is the ultimate time killer and time waster. Luckily there’s no TV in my office. Haha! While I am busy killing time, time is busy killing me.
I wonder how many more springs I have left. I get so morbid and morose sometimes.
The work is piled up in front of me on my desk. There are bills to pay, forms to fill, papers to read, and a lot more stuff there under that pile. I vaguely recall some mental notes I made yesterday but I cannot remember what they were. I’m sure these were important to me yesterday, but today, not so much. I don’t have a clue what they were.
I have plenty of things that need to be done and I’ve had enough coffee. At least some of it was hot.
So much to do and I still don’t know where to start so I’m going to take a walk. I have no shoes on, and I don’t feel like taking time to put them on – it takes too long to tie them. I dress casually in my office because I’m the boss.
I haven’t combed my hair either – but it’s only a walk. Who’s going to see me? I can skip the hair. Who cares? Not me. Maybe someday I’ll be bald. I bet being bald is a real time-saver. I always dreaded the thought of being bald. I might be a good thing though, come to think of it. It would be a time-saver. I need to save some time. I’ve killed enough of it. I’ll give the bald idea some thought – later – when I have time.
Maybe growing a beard would be a time-saver? I’ll make a mental note to give that idea some thought.
I get up from my chair, put my empty coffee cup in the sink, and look for my shoes. I can’t remember where I put them. I need my shoes so I can take a walk, but I can’t remember where they are. I waste more time looking for them. I finally find my shoes, put them on, and tie them. I find my watch and put it on. I have to wear a watch because I don’t have time for a walk. I have work to do and none of it is getting done so I really need to keep tabs on the time. My watch keeps good time.
I walk out the door. It’s warm and sunny. It’s a perfect pre-spring day. I wonder what happened to the wild and wily winds of winter? Today feels like spring. It looks like spring. So, I’ll enjoy the pre-spring spring day. It took longer for the coffee to brew than it took for winter to go away. Time is such a funny thing – but I’m not laughing.
I’m walking now and I start caring even less about time. The sun is getting higher in the sky and I think of all the time I’ve killed today. I made coffee, drank coffee, and put on my shoes, and my watch. I have invested a lot of time thinking about all the work I have to do and where to start.
I have become a master at killing time. I imagine prisoners serving life sentences and insane people are very good at killing time. I wouldn’t call them masters, though. They are more victims of circumstance. I am not a prisoner but I might be insane. One thing is for sure — I am a master at killing time. I laugh at that because I know that time is killing me. It will kill me someday. There is so much time in the universe I could never kill all of it. I can only kill the little time that belongs to me- and I’m very good at it.
I think about the dream I had last night all those pearlescent wavelets washing away the beach in front of my sleeping eyes. I think about the fiery sunset as the sun sank into the sea. I wonder how long it took me to dream that dream. Seconds probably. Maybe just microseconds. Nanoseconds. Not long at all.
Sleeping is another great way to kill time. When I think about it philosophically, sleep is like practicing for death. The more I sleep the more practice I get. I wonder if everything is just a dream? I think that is a Hindu thing – the dreams of Brahma, right? I make a mental note to check out the Hindu thing when I get time. I laugh at the thought of my mental notes.
Oblivious to the day, lost in my thoughts, I walk down a quiet street, thinking about all the work I have to do and how much time I am wasting.
I pass a park with empty swings. There are charcoal grills but no one is cooking. There are green benches but no one is sitting on them. There is no one in the park at all today. Someone paid for this park but I never see anyone using it. It seems like a waste of time and tax dollars. I decided that I will use it. I paid for it – at least part of it. I sit down on a green bench and think about all the things I have to do today and I still don’t know where to start. Right now, I decide to watch the big, fluffy, cumulus clouds floating in their crystal-blue heaven. I close my eyes and try to think of nothing.
The yellow-orange wavelets glimmer and melt in the bright sunlight. They caress the sandy shore and sing watery lullabies. The soft mummer of the gently rolling waves reminds me of days long ago when I was a child. I used to skip stones here – watching them skip over the waves. I look up and see the lighthouse. It is the same lighthouse I used to play on as a child. It stands a bleak, red, and white obelisk, rising near the edge of the sea. I wonder if it still stands a working sentry to ships in peril on the sea? It probably has been replaced by a computer in an ugly, green box.
I am a grizzled, salt-hardened, sea captain, traversing a roiling sea through a dangerous and dense fog – on an ethereal, dark, and moonless night. I tenaciously guide this great freighter over a dangerously shallow sea. I have the fate of many souls in my hands. I can barely see the lighthouse flashing through the fog but I see it enough. I hear the foghorn and turn the ship’s wheel hard starboard. I save the ship from a rocky reef. I’m a good captain. I am the best.
I open my eyes. The park is still empty. A truck passes by. It is loud. Very noisy. The driver is in a hurry to get somewhere and he’s running out of time. He has work to do and he is doing it. It reminds me that I have work to do – and a lot of it. And I am not doing it.
I start walking home and think about all the work that is waiting for me when I get back to my office. All that work, so much to do that I don’t even know where to start.
Finally, I realize that I don’t have enough time to finish any of the work I have to do today. I think of a poem I read a long time ago. It’s by Richard Le Gallienne.
…I meant to do my work today,
But a brown bird sang in the apple tree,
And a butterfly flitted across the field,
And all the leaves were calling me….
I think Richard Le Gallienne had lots of work to do – just like me. When he wrote that poem he was just killing time. Time eventually killed him. At least his poem survived.
I have a lot of work to do today but none of it is getting get done. Maybe I’ll get to it tomorrow – if I have one. Right now, I am just killing time.
And it’s funny…
While I am busy killing time, time is killing me.