Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Time Fears

I just wrote that all our days are numbered but that is only true in one sense.  If we know the date on which someone died, we could number each day from birth to death.  Theoretically, there is a number which equals the number of days some now alive will live but we don’t know what that number is.  But, yes, our time is limited.  In a month, I will be 70.  It is a good bet that I will not live for 100 more years.  Not 50 more years.  As Lynn says, looking at some of the late 80 yr olds and 90 yr olds we know, that is a good thing.
It feels inside that my interest in being “on time” for events and appointments is a separate matter.  I do not find myself reflecting on my remaining hours when I drive too fast to the dentist’s to be there by the time I have agreed to.  I find instead some sort of basic inner silent conviction that I will be a bad person if I am late.  Late!  Tardy!  When you are late, you are the faulty part of the machinery.  You are the reason work can’t proceed.  You… Blah, etc.
Those who are ‘tardy’ are those who are late.  We don’t seem to have an equally pejorative word for those who are early.  I mean if you are early, you may be sitting waiting for your time to arrive.  You may be reading magazines you aren’t really interested in or merely twiddling your thumbs.  You know how to twiddle, don’t you?
Because of my time conscience, I feel rather O.K. about twiddling, going into a trance, meditating or otherwise spending the time until my appointment.  I am able to feel that that time is not wasted and I am an OK person despite arriving early.  I suspect that the same kind of basic inner silent conviction in some people emphasizes how leaving now for the appointment is wasteful and foolhardy when some laundry could be folded yet or some bills paid. 
One solution to timing is to be neither late nor early.  However, given traffic and errors and just ordinary old chance, stuff, lots of unplanned unavoidable stuff is gonna’ happen.  We read about some Cambodian immigrants to America who noted the amazing punctuality their neighbors and friends showed.  When they discovered that the precise timing effect was produced by driving around the block to use up the twiddling interval, they thought it was the funniest thing they had ever heard.  They were totally speechless with laughter at the picture of an adult person circling the neighborhood waiting for the approved moment.  Hasn’t struck me as that funny but maybe it will.

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