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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Time is no thing

It's too soon to take away the timelessness of a child, I think to myself today. We always talk of childhood being the easy time of life, innocent yes, but it can only be hard or harder, although it is for the first few years timeless. Once the obvious is excluded -- the love or indifference, care or negligence, guidance or ignorance, once it just becomes about growing up it's still hard. I think the hardest part of growing up is the awareness of the finite, that you have to choose how to spend something, in this case time, when you still don't understand how it works, except for that lingering awareness that time just doesn't last. The other parts are were they should be: irrevocably tied to growth -- stunting or supporting; their effects timeless.

I've decided to avoid the tock and the click and the digital blip; this summer I'll keep the time and the kids can just remain off the clock.

In her novel, Our Lady of the Lost and Found (in several read out loud pages), Dianne Schoeperlen appeals that time is no thing. It is not, and it is, a verb or noun, or it is some other part of speech depending on our time frame; or, it isn't a part at all when it is used metaphorically, which it is at it's most momentus. It's right up there with space, but while space suspends our fascination and leaves us re-orienting ourselves within it, time is at it's best when we can leave a bad moment, or stand still in a good one, and have that moment seed a life time.

Even when I haven't had my health, there's always been time and the fear of its counter part, lost time. I've felt time drag, push, linger, fade away and fly, always provisionally. I have really not had enough respect for it until recent years; mostly due to other pressures; it was rarely on my list of considerations as the moment of pain and illness where all that I could deal with -- at the time.

Now, of course, time matters more and more and in these brief moments I spend with kids it is showing me just how much. Asking a kid to be ready in five minutes is meaningless to them, as it should be. Telling them that tomorrow we are going to Center Island is asking them to wait forever. When I was a kid, knowing that summer would be over and school would be starting set me to tick tick with panic every time I thought of it. School being the ultimate test of my failures as I became further and further behind.

Looking way up on our yellow kitchen wall with the matching clock, I once believed I could understand time through learning to read a circle of numbers. They sent me round curves trying to balance the noun with the verb and trying to figure out the space between ticks when a moment gave me pause for thought. For my first communion I wanted a watch so badly that I mastered that kitchen clock. As for wearing a watch, they die on me within weeks, every last one I've tried stops working.

Still -- which time never is -- behind, I feel as though I'm living on time borrowed from some stash that I didn't even know existed; maybe this is the proverbial pot of gold we seek. Time for another chance -- again, again! Until I get it right or get caught up to where I think I'm supposed to be before the final bell.

In the mean time, I'm hanging with the timeless in the hood of children, giving them as many "agains," as I can, receiving each moment as it is without trying to use clock ticks as my tally. This one summer may be all that we get together, but if I"ve timed it right, it might last a life time, or two.

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