Time. It tends to slip away all too quickly.
What with the invention of fax machines, the creation of FedEx and now the Internet, text messaging, Twitter and Facebook, we like to think our generation somehow cranked the handle of time too tightly and is now watching it unravel at an unprecedented rate. And, yet, how do we explain the aphorism “time flies,” perhaps first known in Latin as the expression tempus fugit? Was the Roman poet Virgil a poor manager of his own time? Or was he making a statement for all the people of his day, and, thereby, making the passage of time a human experience rather than a 21st century one?
All I know for sure is there just doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day for me to do all the things I want to do—whether it be check off all the items on my to-do list at work or exercise or go grocery shopping or do laundry or sweep the floors.
I also know I lose track of time when I am at the beach. Especially when a couple green sea turtles swim by or a Hawaiian monk seal hauls out or wave after perfect wave rolls ashore. Time is as fleeting as a seal swimming in the sea.
I’ve recently decided the same must be true for all of nature, not just humans. Take a look at this first picture I posted two, short months ago of a Laysan albatross chick. Note the under-developed wings.
Now, look at the second picture that I snapped this morning.
Two months ago, the wings were out of proportion for its body, and the same is true today. However, then, they were too small, and, now, the wings are too large. When this bird tried to tuck its wings against its body, the wings didn’t snuggle tightly like a perfectly folded work of origami. No, the wings dragged along behind the bird as if someone had attached adult wings onto a chick’s body. It felt like I was reading a children’s book trying to figure out, “What’s wrong with this picture?”
In the same two month span, Kaikoa—also known as “Sunrise Seal” transformed from this a tiny black bundle of fur to a silvery torpedo ready to streak through the seas.
Nature helps us mark the passage of time. When I look and these two pictures and reflect on each animal’s transformation during the same two-month window, I am reminded to make choices. Every morning, I have the choice of sleeping in, or rising early. I have the choice of flipping open my laptop and traveling down the rabbit hole—a la Alice in Wonderland—to emails and Facebook, or going for a walk on the beach. I realize now that no matter what choice I make, time will fly. Like Virgil and his contemporaries, there will never be enough time in the day to satiate all my appetites. The key for me, then, is to make the choice—whether it is the computer or the beach—in which time will not only fly, but I will lose complete track of time, as well. Then, I know, I will be absorbed in something I love. Some days that will mean rising early, flipping open the laptop and writing. Other days, it will be a strolling by an albatross colony with my camera in hand. The realist in me knows, however, there will be plenty of days in which time just flies. Days in which I consciously watch the clock tick off its seconds and hours. Days in which I am not lost in an adventure or a project; I am just doing. I can only hope the days of lost time outnumber the days of fleeting time. There’s a difference, you know.