Time is a funny thing. It seems to stretch or shrink, depending on what you’re asking of it. Time never seems to be just right for us – there’s either too much or it or too little. We’re never just right on time.
Take my house, for instance. My sons are constantly irritated with me because none of the clocks in the house are set to the right time.
But there’s a reason for that.
Like most modern American people, we’ve got clocks darn near everywhere. In the living room, we have a large and beautiful wall clock that in addition to telling the time, also conveniently covers up a hole in the wall. The DVD/VCR machine tells the time, if we remember to program it correctly.
The microwave has a digital clock, as does the stove. In the bedrooms, there are not only clock radios, but computers with an internal clock, ticking away at the tops of the screens. Of course our cell phones tell the time, too. Even the iPod has a built-in clock (and an alarm).
In the family room, there are two wall clocks – one near the TV, and another across the room, a large atomic clock that a relative gave us for Christmas that we don’t dare get rid of.
Also, the atomic clock is the only one we can depend on to tell us the absolutely honest correct time.
Let’s face it, most clocks are imperfect things. They run fast or slow, or if they’re battery-powered and the battery runs out, not at all. (Of course, then they’re still right twice a day.)
Computer clocks are notoriously unreliable. And every other digital clock we have is dependent on electricity, and gets screwed up whenever the power goes out. Living in the country as we do, this is a fairly regular occurrence. We’ll go out and come home to everything blinking. Sometimes I don’t bother resetting anything for days. Too much trouble.
But what my kids really hate is the fact that I deliberately monkey with the time at home.
Our big living room clock is always set 10 minutes ahead. The microwave clock is 5 minutes ahead. Just about everything else is a minute or two fast.
And why, you ask, would this be?
Because otherwise we can’t ever seem to get anywhere on time.
Setting the clocks ahead really does help.
It’s funny, because I know that they’re all fast. I mean, I’m the one who did it. But I do react viscerally to the sight of the time, and my immediate reaction is, “Omigod, we’re late!”
Then the brain actually kicks in and sighs, “No, you’re not, you’ve got 10 more minutes.”
But the emotions at that point are already stirred up, and I’m on the move, making lunches, finding backpacks and socks, and generally shoving people out the door.
So it works for me.
But my younger son, who is a very precise person, hates this clocks-set-fast stuff.
“Oh Mom,” he groans, “why can’t you just make all the clocks tell the right time?”
I don’t have a good answer for that, other than it’s what I need to do.
Time is going by, all too quickly. My boys are growing up. They’re busy people with busy lives, even now. And it will only get more so.
So I’m always living 10 minutes in the future. If only that could make it easier to see what’s to come.