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I once thought that my time was endless. That the hands on a clock spun in circles, and that circles were infinite. I had once thought that clocks did not run out of battery, and that stopwatches ran forever. That when a person says one thirty, that meant five hours until dinner and not ten and a half hours until the next sunrise that marks one day closer to a grave.
Time is not an issue. Time is a reference. The sun is time. The shadows are time. Your heartbeat counts seconds, and minutes, and hours; and it ages each day.
But for me, time never ran out. I could sit on a field of grass, turned yellow by the autumn wind and count the blades, pulling out individual strands on the second so that by the end of the day I’ll know that eighty six thousand seconds had passed, and I will have picked eighty six thousand strands of grass. I could take the time to sound letters instead of paragraphs from the ink on the page. I could count the number of peas on my plate, could afford to ponder exactly how rare is medium rare and how well is something well done.
When I have all the time in the world, sleep comes easily. Not frets, no nightmares of grief, no anxious longings, no need to hurry through the night. To say it was silent is untrue – silence is the lack of noise, the absence of emotion. Those nights were quiet – peaceful, uninterrupted.
When time pestered, I brushed it off. It had nothing to push me towards, nothing to say that At This Time, something will change. Because everything is still when time is endless. So change cannot be and therefore time cannot exist.
But it does exist, and so change must present. And I felt change shake my footing when I stepped off the grass and stopped counted the peas in my plate and stopped sounding letters in words. When I started to write sentences and mowed the lawn and asked for a bag of peas. And suddenly, time became my heartbeat, and I did not have all the time in the world. I did not have all the time. And neither did I have the world.
When time started to act, its brutal hand shoved me forward. It dragged me in chains across sound of alarms and ticks and tocks. And I started to change. And change happened quickly. Because change was pushing time and time rode on change’s shoulders and they all weighted down on my saddle.
When seconds pass we would shiver. When minutes passed our eyes would widen and our mouths gaping in disbelief. When those minutes become hours we would gasp and clutch our heart, trying to reach that internal clock that begins the countdown.
And every day, the mind grows old, the body weak. Everything slows down, our memories stall and our reach hindered by rust in our bones. But the heart beats on with the same relentless pace as it did forty years ago, and with each beat, the body rocks and the legs whimper and the back hunches with pain.
When the heartbeat finally slows, it slows to a trot, a walk, a gentle stroll that the body is not capable of but time is. And on that last second, before your heartbeat reaches midnight, you realize that your time has run out.
And you still did not have the world.