The symbols for the New Year are bewildering. On one end of the spectrum is the New Year’s baby wearing only a diaper while on the other end is Father Time moping about in what looks like a long hospital gown. It’s a shame we can’t have a symbol without bladder control issues.
Our clichés about time are bewildering as well. Some are funny, some strange, some true, some part true and some patently false.
“I’ll be with you in just a second,” may be the most commonly told lie of our time – second only to “just a minute.” That said it is far better to be told “just a second” or “just a minute” than “just a cotton pickin’ minute.” You’re on dangerous ground once you enter cotton pickin’ minute territory.
As for “the 11th hour,” if you are ever looking for my husband, this is where you will find him. Well, he’ll either be in the 11th hour, pushing some task right up to the line, or in a used bookstore. Living in the realm of the 11th hour is a malaise common to journalists. Conditioned by endless deadlines, it becomes difficult to accomplish much in advance. If you’re still vague on the 11th hour, think tax returns and shopping for an anniversary card.
“Better late than never,” is a close-but-no-cigar cliché in my book. There are times when you only make things worse by being late; never would be preferable. One must be able to determine when the train has done left the station.
One of the best ditties about time that I know of came from members of a high school football team. Their coach taught them that “to be early is to be on time, to be on time is to be late, and to be late is to be forgotten.”
I tried impressing that on the husband, but he says it does not apply in the 11th hour.
I was always cautious about using the phrase, “marking time” around the kids. It conjured up images of them drawing clocks on the walls.
When John Adams was grieving the death of his beloved wife Abigail, Thomas Jefferson wrote to him in a letter: “. . . for ills so immeasurable time and silence are the only medicine.”
As for what makes the best time, that is a highly subjective call. But I can tell you when the best time is. The best time is half an hour before sunset and half an hour before sunrise. The best time is when a blanket of snow has fallen and encroaching darkness turns the world a beautiful blue.
The best time is in the country at night with a clear sky and the stars blazing.
The best time is when the door opens and someone says, “I’m home.”
The best time is when you have a full house and you manage to beat them all out of bed and have a few minutes of quiet before the day begins.
Time is a constantly changing companion. It creeps, crawls, stands still, shrinks disappears, multiplies and flies.
What can we look forward to in the way of time in the coming New Year?
Another 365 days.