Time, even more than money or power, should be treasured.
Unlike the aforementioned money or power, time is a commodity we all possess, and all hold dear. We start our lives with “nothing but time” ahead of us, quickly learn that there is a “nap time,” grow up and realize that we are trying our best “to budget our time” and eventually hit an age when we feel as if we’re “running out of time.”
Businesses strive for efficiency to “get the most out of their time,” we often wax poetically about “the best of times” and several times a week most of us exhale deeply and bemoan that “there just isn’t enough time.”
Cher said she wanted to “turn back time,” Jim Croce wanted to put “time in a bottle” and Cyndi Lauper sang to us “time after time.” Sports gives us “time outs,” “extra time” and “overtime,” and we constantly find ourselves in a state of panic because “time is not on our side.”
Life can be dizzying, frantic and downright overwhelming. In our frenzied battle against time and all its restrictions, we sometimes forget to see the proverbial forest for the trees.
Before you know what happened, you’re finding gray hairs. Or waking up and realizing the little paper you helped start is now 13 years old. Or your kid is going off to college or the military, or has announced he or she is getting married.
It hits you that you just don’t know where time went. There’s a popular old saying that I’m going to butcher by paraphrasing, but it basically states that nobody lying on their death bed thinks, “Man, I wish I would have worked more.”
I was considering this subject on Monday afternoon, as my daughter, wife and I were standing outside with our sweet next-door neighbor, who had thoughtfully brought over some cookies for my daughter. There we were, laughing and talking and watching the eclipse through our special glasses and just all-around enjoying a beautiful day and a natural wonder happening over our heads.
I would steal glances at my 2-year-old ball of mayhem, and smirk as she would bounce from riding her tricycle to grabbing another cookie to asking me questions to wanting to look back up at the moon. “This is the best of times,” I thought to myself. “Life is not going to get much better than this.”
My mind started racing back to what she was able to do a year ago, or six months ago or six weeks ago, and I thought about how much I kind of miss her being dependent on us for every part of her life. Then I started wondering what life with Riley will be like in another year. Or five. Or 10.
Life needs a “Pause” button.
It wasn’t just my near-panic over the fact that somehow my baby has become... not a baby. It was the realization that life at that very moment was remarkable.
I looked across the street and saw two other women staring at the heavens with their glasses on, and could hear them laughing and talking. All morning long I heard or took part in conversations in our office about the eclipse, and how everyone was going to try to sneak out to catch it. My Facebook feed was filled with friends from all around the country who were experiencing it in different ways, and sharing articles on what to expect when the moon went into “block mode” in front of the sun.
I saw memes and gifs and jokes and scientific reports, all concerning the natural wonder that was winding its way across the nation, and I had the NASA stream open in the background of my computer screen so I could keep up with its progress. It was exciting, and it was universal.
And, for a few precious hours, hate seemed to take a seat in “time out.”
We were collectively bonded by an eclipse, through the will and force of nature. We weren’t yelling at each other over the Confederacy or Nazis or health care. We weren’t calling each other names over a school referendum or visitors to the beach. We weren’t black or white or yellow or brown.
We were celebrating our commonalities — our love of spending time with family, our shared understanding that there is something much bigger than us in play and our knowledge that we were witnessing something rare. Together.
I can’t help but feel as if the world would be a better place if we just all stopped from time to time, gathered our families and stared off into the sky. My daughter is now understanding the fun of finding different shapes in the clouds, and our nightly walks around the neighborhood are filled with her pointing out giant dinosaurs in the sky.
Editor’s Note: Every cloud in the sky looks like a giant dinosaur to Riley. She also believes every well-manicured bush looks like a poop emoji, so take that for what it’s worth. Also, I take no blame for a 2-year-old knowing what a poop emoji looks like. OK, I take a little blame.
Moments like Monday are when time should stand still. Going through the photos taken by our staff, I saw families using their homemade eclipse-viewing devices, people handing off glasses to one another and kids just genuinely enjoying themselves out in the sun with other kids.
It was a good time to just enjoy what was around us, and a great time to push “Pause.”