Savor the time, choices you have: They’ll fly by no matter what

Column by Sean Rose

A little boy used to become so upset when he was sent to bed that he would cry to his reflection in the mirror while brushing his teeth before slipping between the covers.

It wasn’t a nightly occurrence. But it happened enough to leave an impression on him as he grew older.

He came to realize, on the few occasions he thought about his moping younger self, that it wasn’t so much an order to bed that upset him as much as the lack of time.

Staring a new day, month or year in the face, it’s easy to feel comfortable and safe in the abundance of time you’re dealt — as if you could roll in the spare minutes and throw them into the air like they were crisp dollars in a scene from a Vegas movie. But they never stop slipping away with each mechanical tick of a second hand. Time is always present, which is probably why humans have such difficulty understanding how such a constant can be so incredibly fleeting.

The boy crying in the mirror, his mouth foaming from toothpaste, didn’t have such complex epiphanies. And the activities sleep kept him from weren’t the most pressing or important — most likely another half hour of TV. But it was still his time wasted in sleep.

The older he got, the more he appreciated a full eight hours a night. But he also realized more and more how quickly he progressed from grade to grade, from birthday to birthday, emerging closer and closer to this mythical place, “the real world,” where bills came first and doing what you want becomes harder with each speeding day.

Sleep became a necessity and enemy in one lazy body. A retreat to ready him for the next day. A reminder that, no matter what, there will never be enough minutes in any day, in any lifetime, to do everything he wanted.

Each year, he repeated the same speeches to himself and heard the same people also caught in time’s current, but older, tell him the same things: disbelief on how fast he grew, how quickly the years left, how he should watch how often he blinks because it could all slip past him if he’s not careful.

So he was trapped. Incapable of shaking through the aging process, he was left to uselessly challenge the way of the world with words and late night thoughts. They did as much good as shoving a doorstop in front of a glacier.

Choices became a premium. If he couldn’t control time, he would control what he did with it. But voices echoed all around him, reminding him how important his future was so that he, at times, forgot if he was making his own decisions or conceding to whoever was loudest.

I don’t know where this boy will end up. Sometimes I wish I did, but then I think better of it. Knowing what’s to come is comfortable, like the hour after first waking up from sleep but remaining in bed. But the unknown leaves more to the imagination and far more potential.

With each choice we make, it seems like 10 more possibilities are destroyed. When we’re young, we’re told that anything’s possible. So we dream of playing professional baseball and walking on Mars. But as we grow, we run out of time to make our dreams a reality. We are half humbled and half focused by the frustrations of everyday life, but if we’re lucky, we hold onto whatever it is that drives us. We remember how precious and continuous each minute is.

I will never have enough time to read all the American classics, visit all the remote places I see in magazines or listen to every amazing band never to get a record deal.

But, at least for now in my life, I have enough time for friends I love, a family that is another part of my heart, and time to write about whatever it is that confuses, excites, intrigues, depresses or pisses me off every other week. Choices are a premium.

Sometimes, the little boy rose from bed to sneak downstairs. He hid behind a couch until his dad would notice him and invite him to watch sports highlights on TV. Most the time, he was probably asleep again within half an hour.

But it was his choice, his control.

No matter what choices we make, may we all recognize our power to rise from our beds in the years to come.