let's talk about time.
This is a clock.
It resides in a castle in some little town on the Isle of Man. Castletown, go figure. A dear friend and I stumbled on this quite enormous contraption whilst looking for beautiful things to see and, well, to kill time before leaving this charming little place with many, many sheep. And as I was listening to the slightly uneven tick-tock that had been doing just that for centuries, it occurred to me that the most important thing that any human being “has,” although not quite possessive, is time. You know, as musicians, our playing is often considered what is most important to us because of the incredible nuances and shapes and figures and quirks that contribute to our identities, but in fact, time is universal, and thus it is so much more.
And in a way, it is individual, too. Each person may have a slightly different relationship with time. A New Yorker or some other city dweller may feel like they never have enough of it and continuously use seconds and minutes and hours as a measurement for how much one can get done and we don’t have 25 hours in a day but believe me if it were possible they’d really push for it. I know all too well what that feels like. And on the other end, there are those who don’t have a care in the world about minutes and hours and could spend so much of it daydreaming in a field somewhere and maybe it’s therapeutic letting some of it slip between your fingers and float away.
I wonder what it’s like to enter a serene state of waiting. You know, like boarding a bus or a train without periodically checking the lock screen on your phone and keeping track of numerical figures that supposedly have meaning. It’s 10:43 and I have to be at Fulton Street in 17 minutes and what do you mean there’s train traffic ahead of us???? I wonder what it feels like to have the mentality of well, when it’s my time to get there, then so be it. And that takes patience, probably rewarded with lower blood pressure, I suppose. But that’s a lot like how life works. And it’s difficult to grapple with:
You will...but not right now.
Because right now is often when we want things the most. To get to a destination, philosophically to get to a better point in your life, to achieve something great, to dance among a stream of endorphins because the world is your oyster and things are working on your schedule. But of course, we don’t see the future. I wonder, if we had superpowers, would we want to know the optimal points of our lives in advance? Would it take away the suspense, the fear, the excitement, or might it provide some relief that maybe you’ll turn out alright?
Time is of immense value, and life is short. Well, in the grand scheme of things. Hell, sometimes an hour can feel like a lifetime, and sometimes you can blink and it’s gone - it just depends how we feel about it.
I’ve had some time to reflect on the many beautiful sights and turquoise waters of Port St. Mary and I came to realize the power of my relationship with time. I have control over how I spend it and whom I spend it with. And if those little moments don’t feed my soul and my brain and nourish them with meaning and color and structure, then those moments are not worth spending time on. And yes, I’ve had moments here (and there) that weren’t fruitful and nearly felt like a complete waste and somehow I wished that I could capture that time, and wring out the utterly meaningless bullshit, like words and sentences that I really didn’t need to listen to, for example. I wished that I could recycle them and reuse that energy to go back to some brief moments that mattered.
Points of my childhood, perhaps. Maybe to have a few more words, a whole conversation, even, with my grandfather in Riverhead before the prostate cancer came and he disappeared.
Maybe go-karting in Baldwin while my dad engine-swapped a black ‘83 Camaro. I don’t know why that part ended. Baldwin, anyway. People move on, I suppose.
Perhaps the simple pleasure of a legendary slice of pizza and a Corona in hand with good company overlooking the waves of Long Beach on a sunny day.
In more recent times, to have a few more seconds onstage and to take in the applause and celebration of when I felt I did really well.
What I’m sure all of us would do to return to moments that give us a reason to keep breathing, to keep working, to keep pushing forward, but of course, time has other plans. Time is not necessarily patient, even though we must be patient to appreciate it. A bit one sided, is it not? Time does in fact show us meaning, but we don’t realize it enough in the present - we wait until it has drifted away, entering into a spinning, whirling vortex of memories. Unique memories.
We all want to be unique somehow, right? Maybe to do something or be rewarded for something that few others have accomplished. To conquer a course that’s probably rigorously selective, probably for all the wrong reasons, too. To be someone noteworthy, individual, with purpose, and a proper name and a proper identity and maybe a good heart. No promises. And for some people, just a gram of feeling like you’re on top of the world leads to several other grams of other things that you shouldn’t be touching but are just so irresistible. And you go from 25 and fooling around to 52 and you’re still there with the same shit, just a different day, and you don’t give a damn about what time it is because it’s all the same. And you’re passed out on the cold bench of an old R32 A train from 207 down to Broadway Junction and who knows, maybe you’ll wake up and you’ll beg and plead for some seconds of clarity. And you’ll cry all the way to Mott Av only to realize that you have absolutely no life at all, so you head all the way back to 207 and do it all again because it’s a cycle. It’s a cycle that’s so hard to break when you’ve wasted that much time and can’t get out of the tunnel.
And still I wonder, isn’t being human enough? Why do we spend so much energy separating ourselves from other like-minded humans? What happened to community, to support? What happened to living much simpler lives? We’ve become so consumed with how many degrees we need to earn and how many awards we need to have to be considered great, so we can get the best job and find a great partner along the way and have a great place to live and have great children and everything will be just great. Great. What happened to just being happy? Why isn’t that considered the top aspiration? It isn't found in likes on social media. It's not in your earnings, or designer material items, or an abundance of certificates and trophies. I mean, what do you want, a medal for all your medals?
It's the experiences. And you know what, it's the people too. Maybe you don’t realize it, and sometimes you don't notice that your favorite people make you happy until time goes on and you move to different places and pick up your sad little lives elsewhere, but it’s true.
Time is an endless pulse that keeps going whether you want it to or not. But maybe it's worth taking a moment, or a few seconds or whatever, for yourself. Just yourself. And when the weather is nice and the sun is joining you for a bit, you look out somewhere in the distance and you remind yourself of what you do have. And if that's nothing, then just a small bubble of a message that you ain't gotta prove nothing to nobody and you don't owe the world anything just as the world doesn't owe you anything, either.
Time has a way of turning tables. Time has a way of pointing the compass in a different direction just by passing through. So keep walking with time as a companion, one foot in front of the other. Time is not to be bought; conversely, time is not merely a leftover commodity to be senselessly given away. No unnecessary favors, no strings, no bullshit, fair game. So approach with a clear mind and a full heart, and run with all your might, whether it’s with brute force or with meticulous intellect.
But just know that when time wants to show you something, open your eyes and look at what’s in front of you, because time is right.
Have a wonderful summer 🌞