Time, Time, Time Ain’t on My Side

But at my back I always hear

Time’s wingèd chariot hurrying near

Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress

 I have measured out my life with coffee spoons

Eliot, “Prufrock”

Of course, time seems to pass more rapidly as we age because of the forever diminishing frames-of-references that years represent.

For example, when I was five, a student at Miss Marion’s kindergarten, a year was a fifth of my life and seemed as expansive as a continent.  The previous Christmas seemed like a far distant outpost several time zones removed, separated by a progression of slow transpiring days that unfurled and closed like lazy morning glories.

[check out the vines on the left as Cat Stevens rejoices]

Now, that I’m 61, a year seems like one revolution on a Tilt-a-Whirl that’s gone haywire in Max Sennett short – each successive whirl faster – last Christmas seeming a day or two ago and the next a day or two away.

But here’s the thing.  For the past week it’s as if I exist in a Rod Sterling directed Twilight Zone adaptation of a Kafka short story.

Every time I reach for something, it’s the very last one available!  It’s ubiquitous.  Uncanny.

For example, the day before yesterday, I had to replace the toilet paper roll in the master bath and the very next day needed to replace the roll in what we euphemistically call “the powder room.”  Coincidence – of course – but then last night as I unfurled the dental floss, the spool unwound and spit out the last remaining thread . This morning’s dry dog food scooping found the cup hitting the bottom, the food not completely done, but within three or four days of depletion.

And here’s the clincher: at school, I forgot to hit the staple function on the copier in the work room,[1] so had to staple my Romanticism tests by hand, and guess what, not only did the first stapler I used run out of staples, but the next one did as well!

To be honest, though, there was plenty of looseleaf paper to distribute to my students who are at this very moment in time explaining why this stanza of Wordsworth’s “Ode: Intimations of Immortality” conforms to the subject matter and poetic conventions of Romanticism:

What though the radiance which was once so bright

Be now for ever taken from my sight,

Though nothing can bring back the hour

Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;

We will grieve not, rather find

Strength in what remains behind;

In the primal sympathy

Which having been must ever be;

In the soothing thoughts that spring

Out of human suffering;

In the faith that looks through death,

In years that bring the philosophic[2]

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[1] By the way, in those halcyon days before email, the copy room called the Lounge, and perhaps the fact that we in the working world are so busy there’s no time for contemplation may also play a role in the seeming acceleration of time’s passage.

[2] Of course, when I was copying my rubric for grading my students’ responses the copier ran out of paper.  I swear!

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