Time, time, time. See what's become of me.
Mike, our church leader, or speaker (whatever you call it), held out his wrist and pointed at his wrist watch. "I am controlled by this." By control he didn't mean bondage. He meant that if he didn't wear the watch, he wouldn't know what time it was and that, because of this, he would be at a disadvantage against the rest of the world and his own daily agendas. The numbers on a flat round disk strung up in various places in the room tell us when to think about eating, when to consider going home from work, when to attempt sleep.
Time is often such a suffocating concept, if you allow it to be represented in all the ways you are composed as an individal. It can be, true, but it can also be reflective. Humans are granted the double-edged sword of memories, both collective and personal, based on what contruct you are looking to get results. Here are some of my examples:
Time as a woman. Even before a girl becomes a woman, she is educated on time. My adolescence was gauged with the evolution of my body and its features. My personality was inserted into a handful of variable slots depending on how much time I'd spent on this earth, in this body as it grew up, out and all around me. Skin is often the best and easiest test of time and fools few; plastic surgery still, generally, looks like what it is. In addition to physical changes, emotional states flex like rubber bands as more and more people line up to pluck them. Those who hurt a woman bear the brunt of many odd recollections among other women, who are likely thinking of their own ways they relate to each story. A woman is in herself time and a story. She is marked by her environment, by which choices are assumed and which need to be fought for. She is given the option of being a vessel for more life and so is partially given title due to her decisions there.
Time as one of the young masses. I am not that old, but I am not that young either. I feel old more than I feel young because I remember too much, or with the wrong focus, or because I was shy, quiet, scared, etc., growing up. Perhaps because I've chosen, like many of us have (now that the fringe is no longer thus, the choice is becoming more the norm) to be more aware of what's going on, to discern more and trust less the powers that be, and all the while refusing to fail hope in the endeavors of happiness and fulfillment. Our time seems more murky and confusing and less accompanied with the traditional hash marks of time our prior generations grew accustomed to. Everything just seems like it's happening so fast yet not changing at all.
Time as an American. Cynicism and disturbed faith in democrasy is not new, nor is it, in my mind, increasing in leaps and bounds so as to make this time special. But since we are in it, we feel special. We make decisions as a nationality that determine who we are and who we seem to be. We are reminded of all the American successes and we infer our faults from the end products of those successes. We learn about balance and the struggle for sense in what seems like a senseless system. We are marked by where we live and where we came from, and we often seek a more legitimate existance than the one afforded to us by family trees and reunions, both of which seem to become more and more scarce and we slowly begin to lose our identity as a nation in the throes of change. We realize at times that we didn't have that much to hold onto to begin with.
Time as a college graduate. The ideas of what education is expected to provide are changing. College has almost become so common that the fact that so many of us are graduating with degrees guarantees a bottoming out of our seeming love for knowledge. Many English majors wander around in a collective stupor. Many people drop out of college (or never attend) and make more money than I do, forcing me to wonder why I got an English degree for in the first place. Why did I bother? Time is now marked for me in debt, the debt of an entire nation still looking for the career that will legitimize it, that will soften the blow of our struggle within a system we hoped would care for us just a little while longer.
Time as a single person. You know the drill. You can feel the hands of time twisting around your head. Everyone is getting married and having kids but you. They're all buying houses and cars except you. You may hang in between, wanting to be like them and knowing you're better off not being like them. You might become bitter in your envy, or envious in your bitterness. Or perhaps you are one of the few to whom the maternal advancement has no power of influence. You are marked by how long it's been since the last entanglement, how many babies you've seen get born, how many divorces you've witnessed breaking up before you like houses in a tornado. Human schrapnel everywhere. You are envied for the spare time you have (if you don't project that your life is already full to the rafters). You are time on hold, on pause.
Time is God's irony, an irony that was not meant to happen but simply became so meaningful that few people can escape it. Even mud men living in grass huts know that the sun and moon spell time for them, that numbers only count upwards and out. Everything that can be counted can be given time. Yet without time, we cannot be human, we cannot continue to be the very thing that makes us human were it not for time to tell us when, why and how.