When poets write about time, they seem to
be adrift some sort of cloud, snatching florid and euphoric
verses floating in midair and stacking them neatly into
stanzas. When workaholics discuss it, they sound harried and
victimized. When nostalgic people talk about it, their words
drip out in melancholy, wistful tones. Time plays tricks.
Time is killed. Time drifts, flies, flutters, and flits.
At this point, I could paint some pretty
metaphor about hourglasses or sweeping paper or ruffling
wall calendar pages. But you’ve heard it all before. These
archetypal images are really only created as a way to make
time seem like something attractive and acceptable in our
sour and shaken minds. However, as much as we try to
normalize time in our minds by making it something pretty
and natural, like the “sands of time,” it’s still the
strangest phenomenon that exists.
Sometimes, as a busy and crazed high
school student, I find time’s puzzle tapping on my mind
quite often. The first key thing was my packed schedule as a
junior. I get up, go to school, stay after school an hour
and a half everyday for various reasons, and come home to
slump in a chair and complete homework. Over time, this
homework period was slowly replaced by more frivolous
activity. But nonetheless, the effect of rigorous routine on
time was something funny, something certain yet unsettling.
Because this is really the funny thing
about time: it is the one certain and periodic thing that we
can all always count on as humans, yet its passage in the
form of a rigorous, repetitive monotone is extremely
unsettling. Because it becomes like a familiar, yet alien
thing. While people tend to thrive on the possession of
niches and comfort zones, this one is rather unsettling
because it is made constant by its constant rate of change.
But the weird thing about time is that
even spontaneity and variety don’t seem to make it any more
comfortable of a niche. This year I pulled my first
all-nighter – my first and last, to be careful and specific.
I was faintly curious, in the back of my head as I
frantically completed a project last minute, about what
would happen if I stayed up all night, upsetting my natural
settings. I kept looking back at the clock, and, as it got
later, the world seemed to be bathed more and more in a
strange, tangerine, and alien haze. Things seemed odd, and I
kept feeling urges, not just out of sleepiness, but out of
my proclivity towards normalcy, to go back to sleep and
depart from my really weird surroundings. So, as predicted,
even spontaneous events can’t ease time’s awkward passage.
Once in a short version of the game
“Would you rather?” a peer asked me whether I would rather
keep hearing a persistent beeping at regular intervals in my
ears, or a random beeping. I’m pretty sure I laughed.
Because either way I would go absolutely insane.
The way I see it, though, as long as life
itself isn’t reduced to a mindless, high-pitched beeping, it
hardly matters how time punctuates and permeates it. Maybe
all we are as people are units that struggle to stifle that
funny, funny passage of time by smearing it with the
happening happenings of our own lives. And then we can gloss
over it all with a cute metaphor about reeds and sands of