My Name Is Iden — No Time Like Present Time
- Published: December 28, 2021
By Iden Crockett
It’s December and I can’t help thinking about time.
The seasons are changing. The year is ending. These things are beautiful, and well worth meditating on, but they aren’t what has me thinking. The particular time that has set my neurons churning is, of course, that interminable period between Thanksgiving and the climax of the holidays, Present Time.
Growing up, Present Time was a frenzied half hour that arrived well before the sun on Christmas morning. It was the absolute best, but the wait — oh, the endless waiting for that moment — was the absolute worst. Or so I believed for many, many years. I feel differently now and I believe that that particular period of agonized clock watching, more specifically my perception of it, is the demarcation between my childhood and my adulthood. Perhaps, it would be more accurate to say, between ignorance and understanding.
When I was young, time was an obstacle. It was a vast desert to be crossed on hands and knees with buzzards circling overhead. Each minute was another sun-bleached mile that stood between me and recess, me and TV, me and presents. Now that I’m older — 43! — I love nothing more than a good, dry desert to traverse.
Why did that change occur? Why did I start to value time rather than resent it? Was it simply the increasing demands of my schedule? Certainly not. Kids have some of the most tightly booked schedules I’ve ever seen. That pace doesn’t let up. I was never busier than I was during my last few years of college, and I never stared at the clock with more malice than I did during those lectures and night shifts.
Was it age? Maybe. But not my age. I think that my relationship with time changed because my kids got older. They grow and change daily, despite the combined efforts of their parents. I bet they are growing right now as I write! Seeing this change, and realizing the inevitability of it, changed me. Now I understand that the weeks between Thanksgiving and Present Time aren’t an endless, scorched desert. They are a tiny precious grain that I can barely see, let alone hold. A single grain in an hourglass that I can’t flip over.
I think that’s it. That’s the difference. As a kid, and a kid-less adult, I thought it was the destination that was rare and, therefore, was the thing of value. Now I understand that destinations are vastly overrated. It is journeys that are rare. I only had one grueling, exhausting, college journey and I spent most of it wishing it would end. My kids will only be small once, just once, and then it’s gone. Another grain slipped away. What could be more valuable?
I don’t know if that is something you can teach a person. I remember my sister and me trying to find a way to sleep for an entire week so that we could skip straight to Present Time. Could I convince those two kids that they had it all wrong? Doubtful. I see so many people just passing time, throwing away whole hours on their phone, and it breaks my heart. Could I convince them that traffic jams and checkout lines are priceless? I wish I could give that understanding as a gift. I wish I could fill everyone’s stockings with a few extra grains of sand. I wish that we could all stop focusing on that future moment, not because it isn’t fun or exciting, but because we are missing out on all the rest.
There is great beauty to be found in life’s deserts and there is no better time to appreciate that than the Present.
*Iden Crockett is an artist and writer. She lives in Yellow Springs with her wife and three children. You can follow her work at http://www.mynameisiden.com.