I’m still a young man, too young yet in my estimation to grouse about the frantic pace of modern life, or lament the acceleration of milestones whipping past. So I record my grievances in silence; tallying the afternoons that melt away amid conference calls and urgent deadlines, adding those to my son’s light speed leap from baby to boyhood, maintaining all the while a running sum of the erosion. Then, when least expected, I quietly set out to settle the score. I think of it as my own private insurgency against the facts of life.
The method, should you wish to mount a resistance of your own, looks like this…
Choose a moment when you’re racing from one desperately important task to the next, hours, already in short supply, are evaporating before your eyes, and the cries for your much divided attention are building to a shrill crescendo. Just then, when the long, lazy summer days of your youth seem less like thirty year old memories than implausible fantasies, and when you really, truly, for the life of you can’t explain where the last seven years went, you make your move. Put your phone in a drawer. Throw your kit in the truck, and drive to the river.
A think-tank analyst type might describe my underground crusade as an “asymmetrical conflict”. A less generous observer might say that in the battle of Matt v. time, I’m sure to get my ass kicked. I’d argue that both are missing the point. The aim is not to escape the press of time. We will all be borne relentlessly onward to our fate, like it or not. Resistance is in that sense futile.
But a stolen hour has the power of re-enfranchisement. I may not have a choice in the matter of time’s passage, but I can choose how to spend it. Standing in the river, even if only for a few filched minutes, reminds me that in fact the choice is always, and only my own. I’m guessing that the avalanche will keep picking up speed, and I’ll need to rejoin it soon enough. Hip deep in the cold plodding water though, I set the pace. The line bends and straightens and bends again overhead until the moment I send it on its way. In one way that’s little more than a symbolic gesture, a deliberate, defiant act of conscientious objection. But let’s not forget there’s a fly on the end of that line, a weapon which, when properly deployed, has the power to make time stand still. That’s no token victory.
Most clichés stick around because they’re true. Kids really do grow up so fast, life does pass by before we know it. I may never be able to change those basic facts, but I can, and will go down swinging.