The analogue clock on my kitchen wall – cat-shaped with a pendulum tail – reads quarter to six. It’s been quarter to six for about six months. I’ve not gotten around to changing the batteries, in the same way I don’t get around to much of anything. So it’s perpetually quarter to six, no matter how many times I check whilst running late for whatever I’m meant to be doing.
There’s always something to be rushing for. Things to be done, places to be, people to see, goals to be attained, a world to save.
So much expectation.
Time’s arrow shoots forward, constantly accelerating in our technological realm, and we must keep running lest we fall off the treadmill. As I grow older, with more to juggle, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain the pace. So often I stop trying to run; freezing in place and doing exactly nothing.
Who are we rushing about for and to what end?
Rushing to get to work because we have to work to afford to eat/have a roof/pay the rent of being alive – squeezing the things that make us feel alive into the tiny spaces not filled by Work and Obligations. Work that consists largely of spending day after day sitting at a PC, gazing mournfully out the window at a be-craned urban landscape whilst an orchid slowly dies of despondency in the corner.
I’ll be 44 this year. Although I’m in fairly good nick, I’m acutely aware that I have less time ahead of me than has already passed, and then there’s that whole speeding up thing that happens as we age. So the perennial question is…what the hell am I not doing with my life?
This world is remarkable. That I exist at all, is remarkable. Every day I’m astonished by our planet and the way it teems with life. Walking through Blenheim Park at the weekend, marveling at the stately oaks, the bright daffs, the brooding sky, the dogs rolling in fox crap, I pondered that this must surely be the most beautiful planet in the universe. Even from within the gloomy confines of the office, I can peer through grime-caked windows to marvel at the swooping gulls outside.
All of this wonder, and – given that we haven’t a Scooby how life got started and have to date found no evidence of it happening more than once – it’s entirely possible that Earth is unique, despite the inconceivable size of the universe.
This, perhaps, is truly Eden.
Here’s this incredible place and here’s us – like Bede’s bird flying so briefly through the sunlight – and what do we do with this privilege, with this ridiculously short amount of time in paradise?
If, at the end, our life does flash past our eyes, how much of it was spent within concrete looking out over more concrete versus how much time spent watching the swirl of the mist on the mountains, inhaling the scent of the sea, savoring the velvety texture of a rose petal?
We don’t all have a choice about how we spend our days, but here in the UK we’re more privileged than most. We can be masters of our destiny, at least to some extent.
How much have you looked at the clock today – because you needed to be somewhere or because you were looking forward to the end of yet another monotonous monochrome day?
How much time have you spent in the world?
Slow it down.