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Does anybody know what time it is? (06/27/2004)
By Janet Lewis Burns

TIME is what we have when all is said and done. Time is what we wish we'd have more of one minute, and a clock-watcher's desire for a speed dial the next.

Hickory dickory dock! Tick-tock, tick-tock regulates our every move...to the monotonous clack of windshield wipers, the beat of a pendulum, pulsators pumping at milking time, drum beats out of Africa or a rock band, the plip, plip, plip of a leaky faucet, and a metronome clicking in rhythm. We are timed out!

Our days are numbered. Don't wait until the official retirement celebration before you make plans for things you've always hoped to do. "Tomorrow's another day!" So often one takes a paid vacation to dive into a project at home, catch up on e-mail, to help a friend move, or to polish the silverware.

As "later" arrives, if indeed it does, someone may be seriously ill or restricted from traveling. Overwhelmed, you may have lost the zest to tackle those flying lessons, for a journey abroad, or to explore a coral reef...following a lifelong dream. "He who hesitates is lost."

Where kids are concerned, "time" is often a buzzword in their day-to-day. "It's time to settle down." "You are in time-out until you can behave!" "Give him time and he'll break something." "When are we gonna get there, Dad?" "Time" for children is dictated by the adult, high gear world.

As Baby Boomers, boys and girls of summer, once whiled away juvenile time, TV was being introduced into households across the country. For us, it was "Howdy Doody" time, then "American Bandstand," some old time rock ‘n roll, and by all means "party time!" "The time of our lives" evolved to punching time clocks and baby feeding times.

How often, I wonder, have regrets welled up in memory, of countless occasions we had announced that we just didn't have time? We frequently allow the urgent to crowd out the important. Your elderly parent's window screens remain in the garage well into June, because they didn't want to bother you. The trip to the zoo you had promised your kids never happens.

Time warp. One day you gawk into puffy eyes in your morning mirror, reaching to surmise who this stranger is. Who is this paling, timeworn face with sagging cheeks, a double chin, indentations scowling into bewilderment?

One spring day, I was walking along Third Street in Winona, pausing to admire Heart's Desire's fetching display windows. Another face appeared in the glass next to mine. An old friend put her arm around my shoulder as we chatted all over the place, for old time's sake.

All the while I sensed that I was reliving a scene from my distant past...it had happened just this way another time. The scent of a damp sidewalk, traffic sliding across window glass, her swift embrace, and a radio blurting Rod Stewart's "Hot Legs" from a passing pickup...deja vu.

"Wakeup calls" should be taken seriously. On recent grim, near tragic occasions, I have been fortunate enough to take note that, "my time has not yet come." Such incidents impart a renewed perspective on the vulnerability of us careless humans. We don't always take the time to be cautious and levelheaded.

"The nearer your destination, the more you're slip-slidin' away." Paul Simon also sings, "Still crazy after all these years." Somehow I like that sentiment much better.

Carpe diem! 


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