Essay on Time

Written in 2000.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, but the universe was created in six.


In the age of information, timeliness and efficiency become the defining characteristics of productivity.  It is not a quest for quality, but rather chronology—what did you get done, and when.

Hope becomes attached to the linear ordering of things, a reliance on the implications of the ifs and whens accomplishments might occur.  Life becomes a stacking of future expectations, preparing endlessly for single moments of fruition that can as easily validate as destroy.  Months on the development of a proposal culminate in a fifteen minute presentation. Entire semesters boil down to a final.  Years of building a relationship rest on a bended knee and a yes or a no.

It is maddening to consider one’s margin of return on a lifetime of investment.  The impulse exists to saturate every moment with something that might lead to a minimal return, to some acknowledgment of worth or existence, so that, if all these returns are aggregated and collected, some sort of résumé qualification, some seal of certification will be generated that gives credence to one’s life.

How many great things occur within the span of a day?  How many actions are conceived of, planned, developed, and brought to completion in the span of twenty-four hours?  The harbingers of apocalypse remind us that “the end is near,” and that “there’s no time to waste,” “no time like the present.”  No time for what?  If the next moment does not come, does that render our current moment a waste?  Should projects be undertaken, moves made that ensure a legacy or should one live more in the moment?

Then, of course, the potential exists to disregard those things that may actually require a commitment, some dedication, and some responsibility.  The bleakness of the future, accompanied by its uncertainty, leads many to forget its potential existence and full abandonment to the moment occurs.  Ignorance of all that spans from one day to the next, a desire to escape a death-bed inbox that is not yet empty relegates hopes and visions to mere fantasies.

It’s a matter of balance, of priorities—what things are worth spending time on, and how should one judge their own worth.  What, if anything, is needed to prove that one’s existence was not a moot point in the cosmos, but rather a unique and shining star?  Even stars come in varying types, colors, intensities, and longevities—yet solar systems and galaxies rely on them all just the same.

There seems to be merit in the argument that the universe was actually created in seven days and not six.  It is something that has taken a while to grasp and appreciate, and which runs very contradictory to making the most of every moment.  In spite of the penchant for productivity, and along with everything else under the sun: there is also a time for rest.


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