The one thing (pushing the deep, cosmological/theological questions aside, the ones that bob to the surface when you’re alone, when you’re really thinking, when you’re clear-headed for those two minutes before bed, or for most of the western world, Sunday morning) the one thing that matters, day-to-day, is time.
We get time. If we’re lucky, we get 80 or so years before life as we currently understand it ends. As such, time is a set resource we get our allotment of, and for a life truly lived (the goal), that time must be used properly. Like elementary school art class, here are your supplies, you get two hours and after that you have to stop cutting, painting, glueing and panicking that your parents will throw out your project. You’re left with whatever thing you could make in the pitiful time you got. It’s never enough. And your parents likely will throw out your project. Sorry. C’est la vie. Suns set, sandwiches get eaten, Christmas is over and suddenly it’s January 7th or something. To reconnect the metaphor: things end, we die.
The point is, we can’t get more time, and so our time is the most precious thing we’ve got. We should spend it on the best things. Which is why it is so much more annoying when your time is stolen and spent on crap you hate. When we’re children, it’s chores, and when we grow up, it’s errands or obnoxious relatives or a dead-end job.
Recently, I had a few things come up in my life that I’ve had to give up some nights and weekends for, like it or not. I was house-sitting and dog-sitting and work suddenly became 11-plus-hours-a-day demanding. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy to help people, but there is still that part of your mind that watches those grains of sand fall through the crack in the side of the hourglass and you give that Aunt the finger in your mind for making you babysit her cat. It’s like your time was stolen, pages you were planning to write on were ripped out and used for toilet paper. Like money that could’ve been used to buy skydiving tickets that you lost in a mugging, that time was a great opportunity you can’t get back.
Early this morning, I’m walking my dog through my work (Beverly Hills) neighborhood. I am already upset that I’m at work an hour early, and the dog isn’t doing her business no matter how many tantalizing yards I offer her. Already on my last nerve, I look down to find the dog rolling in the grass, having a ball. And before I got mad or yanked the leash or tried to drag her to some other prissy lawn she’d find more suitable for excrement, I stopped.
I was watching the dog steal her time back. She was cramming those grains back into the hourglass, taking control of the minutes that got away. To her, that walk was ME stealing HER time. I was forcing her to do something she didn’t want to so that she wouldn’t be a burden to me. Or leave unfortunate puddles at work. But she stole it back from me. She took that time, those precious seconds, and went skydiving, whether I liked it or not.
So I laid down in the grass with her.