BE PREPARED –
Time bears no sympathy for your life. It will pass by with merry ignorance of your comings and goings.
It will journey past you as you enjoy the happiest moments of your life and, equally, continue on its path while you endure your deepest heartaches.
Sure, you won’t always feel it pass as such. For the refugee crossing yet another horrid terrain, time will pass as treacle through a sieve. For the blushing bride, it will roar past like a freight train.
Time will see us through all of our ups and downs. It is one of the few constants in our being. Throughout; time has been our sentinel. Humans have understood and marked time for as long as they’ve been conscious.
Yet it is more of a cold, distant, indifferent guardian than a loving parent. It will bring you joys and take you away from them at equal pace.
When viewed holistically from beginning to end, time is aware of everything that has and ever will be.
But it will give you no warnings.
You have no idea when the shitstorm will ensue.
As a teacher, you can imagine the scorn I cop for the amount of holidays I
am entitled to get.
I am baffled by this. It’s not like holidays are a mystical secret that only reveal themselves to a select few and I was one of the precious few recipients of the information. Like Moses hearing God’s Commandments or those flogs from The Beach. Indeed, anyone who has been schooled in our society should be aware of the breaks involved in the school system.
Because of this, I am forever taken off guard when approached with a fresh assault.
“Oh youse get heaps of holidays doncha?” Offered with a forked-green tongue, dripping in bitterness and resentment. The sentiment lingering in the air as if I had betrayed this person for the last time. Honestly, save this crap for truly shocking discoveries alone. Like you find our your best friend steals from the local grocers – “oh how could you?” – or another friend avoids paying tax because of some unintelligible loophole – “mate, are you sure that’s legal? – or your sister becomes a stripper – “really?” All of those would suit the aforementioned approach because you have found out a secret that, whilst not Earth-shattering, catches you off-guard and makes you feel like your two cents simply must be offered in a self-righteous tone.
What irritates me about the attack lies not only in its stupidity, but in its delivery.
“Oh,” “heaps,” “doncha,” all offered with a wink and a whispered voice. The implication is that they know what you’ve stumbled on, what you’re up to, but they won’t tell anyone else. This kind of melodrama would be better suited to being stuck in a lift with a strange man. You don’t know him but you can tell by his self-satisfied grin, messy attire and misleading phone call to his wife that he’s having an affair. It’s OK, mate, your secret is safe with me.
Well, at the end of the day, I suppose they’re right.
I do get a lot of holidays which, obviously, gives me a lot of time and time to reflect on, well, time.
I find time a curious dimension and human responses to it equally puzzling.
When I have very little of it, there’s nothing I would rather have.
When I have too much of it, I feel trapped, overawed, lost and insecure.
In those ways, time reminds me a little of parenting (you find being apart from your children incredibly difficult, yet being with them as being tantamount to torture) or bondage.
During busy periods of my life I can easily waste precious minutes thinking of, and making lists for, all of the things that I would do when I had spare time. When the spare time would arrive, I would treat it like the arrival of a distant aunt. In dispatches you claim to want to see her but, in reality, her arrival is untimely, cumbersome, awkward and, ultimately, completely unproductive.
And so it is with our culture’s strange view of time.
We crave spare time – yet brag about being busy.
We admire bumper stickers instructing us to Carpe (the shit out of) DIEM – I assume you drop the “the” – yet spend countless hours trolling Facebook, wikipedia, Netflix or working.
LIFE IS SHORT and TIME FLIES yet so many of us refuse to simply enjoy the time we have and take it in for what it is worth. It is hard to MAKE EACH MOMENT COUNT when you are stressing about ultimately trivial matters like wardrobes, internet connections or reality television.
Time flies when you’re having fun and the weekend FLIES BY apparently every time we experience it.
At some point, perhaps, it is completely necessary for us to take time to make time.
To take time to sit. To think. To stare. To smile at nothing.
In any form, under any guise, be sure to take care when adopting the prejudice of another.
Even the most simple object may appear vastly different when viewed from its adjacent side.
Protect yourself from ignorance and a bitter spirit by seeking objectivity, clarity and knowledge.
Encourage those around you to live in this broad light and to steer away from the narrow course so often imposed and accepted.
WAITING FOR A PACKAGE
It wasn’t his sole focus. Not to begin with, anyway.
At some point, George realized that if his heart were to beat any faster he could be in real danger of succumbing to some sort of medical event. Not that he had ever heard of a person’s heart literally palpitating through a their chest but, then again, Guinness World Records and the like exist for a reason.
Somehow, this pumping heart had taken total control of his focus. Breathing had become difficult, too. Seemingly because it blocked a clear line of sound from thumping chest to perspiring ear.
“How the hell is my EAR sweating?”
George now was at panic station 5. The kind of panic level Tony Abbott supporters must feel when a person of Arabic ethnicity sits RIGHT next to them on a train.
It was at precisely this moment, or some other one I suppose, that George considered the mathematics of it all.
Could it be possible that his heart hat beaten more frequently in this short period than ever before? It was only midday, but had his heart ever beaten more times in a single day?
Man. Rapidly beating hearts make you hot.
Perhaps the rhythm was actually quite normal. There was a chance that the speed was perfectly acceptable, after all.
What may be causing the distortion could, in fact, have been the depth of each hit. Each beat felt as though it were a bowling ball cannoning off the sides of those bumper rails on ten pin bowling that George, embarrassingly, had to use on his last date.
It’s funny, and deliberate, that I should mention that last date.
Her name was Elizabeth. She was a woman 5 years older with the most elaborately decorated stockings George had ever seen. He complimented her on them 4 times.
Later, George would consider if he overplayed his congratulations. He would also make an effort to look out for stockings in general as he reflected afterwards that thinking about stockings in his previous 33 years totalled less time than his four well-intentioned, yet possibly creepily received, remarks.
Elizabeth was to move away shortly after this date. A new job in Brisbane. That frustrated George, but obviously not in a way that he could express to Elizabeth.
Instead, they made an agreement to mail each other should their romantic instincts instruct their bodies to do so.
George wrote that night.
The Australia Post website told him, after refreshing the page somewhere close to 318 times, that “Elizabeth” (you never can be SURE) “signed for the package” (as with the previous parentheses) at 14:12:07 on Thursday, 19 March 2015.
Today was April 3. Nothing had arrived in his mailbox.
George calculated possible writing times, even factoring in the unlikely scenario that Elizabeth had sought some type of gift to accompany her letter, and added them to the slowest delivery times imaginary.
Today was, in his estimates, the last chance.
With pulsating bowling ball wrestling against his rib cage like a rabid dog escaping authorities, George summoned the courage to approach the mail box.
Hands shuddered. Sweat subtly drifted down his brow and into his eye, momentarily blocking his vision and causing him to open the wrong mailbox. Ray’s mailbox.
Ray was the 83 year old single woman who lived above him. George would hear about this indiscretion later.
Wiping the sweat away, which (for some reason George momentarily ruminated) incidentally contains many of the ingredients necessary to produce urine, George reached inside his mailbox.
In what felt like a lifetime between brain telling hand to open the mailbox and the flap revealing its contests, George suddenly became aware of his still, restful heart.
His eyes peered in. Hopes ablaze.
There’s a letter. A bloody letter!
He pulled it out and loving admired the simple, blank reverse side. That’s SO Elizabeth, he assumed.
George’s still heart had returned to its frenzied state.
Turning it over revealed the AGL logo in the corner. Second notice emblazoned in red.
There was nothing else in the mail box.