Tempus tabescet

Tempus fugit has made its way into our vernacular.

Time flies. It’s a reminder to do the things that need doing. To enjoy what you have.

I don’t know where you are in your life, but my days seem to be full of more minutes than they used to be, but my weeks and months and years seem to be full of fewer days than they contained formerly.

Some tasks feel very involved but take very little time. Some tasks seem to fly by but burn hours of time.

So does time fly? I’m not so convinced.

I was on a mental cruise in a tank at Remedy Float and came to something of an understanding: tempus tabescet — time melts.

Some people will tell you that time is a human construct. It’s not. The measurement of it is; so are the norms we build around time.

Nature understands cycles, but not minutes and seconds.

In some cultures, you don’t dare show up five minutes late. In others, as long as you don’t show up a minute early, you can be three hours late and still be considered “on time.”

But time itself is the mechanism by which things change. Without the passage of time, plants wouldn’t grow, animals wouldn’t age, the Earth wouldn’t spin, the sun wouldn’t rise and set.

We don’t all experience the passage of time the same. Crazy, right?

Walk into a senior center at lunch time. You’ll see 60-year-olds in wheelchairs lugging oxygen tanks and 80-year-olds who just finished 90-minute hot yoga classes.

You’ve heard of Jimi Hendrix and Amy Winehouse and Kurt Cobain and Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison. But there are plenty of people who died at 27 you haven’t ever heard of.

Mark Twain famously tied his death to the return of Haley’s Comet, a phenomenon last present in Earth’s sky during the year of his birth.

Have you ever run out of energy in the afternoon, collapsed on the couch and popped up with the energy of a full night’s sleep, only to find out you slept 20 minutes?

Have you ever set your alarm for a 15-minute meditation and an hour later looked at your watch to discover it’s been two and a half minutes?

Have you ever sat down with a child to put together a puzzle and put the final piece down and four hours have passed in a snap?

Time is always moving, but it doesn’t fly. It doesn’t even meander. It stretches and contracts and flows and fits into whatever mold you need it to fit into.

This isn’t a call to get lazy. Time will still pass whether you use it wisely or not. You don’t control the speed or shape of its melting. But it certainly does not move linearly or predictably.


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