28 February 2006

Time Is Not Guaranteed

Early this morning, before coffee or even e-mail, a phone call: one of My younger cousins, Ricky, barely 21, died from a fall in a work-related accident.

Death has a way of focusing Our minds on the fragility of life, on how vulnerable We really are. But beyond that is the sense that Time--Our presence in it--is not guaranteed to anyone. To the average 21-year-old, Time is infinite, stretching out to a future that he or she cannot see an end to. Sure they sense that in some way, in some odd manner, they will age and maybe look like Dad or Grandma, but Time, being seen as infinite, is not really important.

And that is wrong, both for the individual as for the society that individual inhabits.

At the individual level, maybe the fear of death keeps Us from focusing too much on Time, yet We live in a world where Time is an obsession. Practically every electronic doohickey tossed into the market is related to Time and how it "saves" some. Our attention spans are tuned to ever-decreasing snippets of Time, because We must turn Our attention to something else right now. We complain that We don't have enough Time for everything We want to do, blaming Time for Our own inability to make choices.

Time is an ally, not an enemy. But it is an ally that needs to be acknowledged and partnered with, not treated with cavalier indifference. Perhaps Our confusion about Time at the individual level would make more sense at the societal level, where making a minute count is an alien concept. We live in a society where The Fools take all the Time in the world to do something rational and productive, but rush headlong like frenzied lemmings into stupid, illegal and immoral acts. Maybe if We took more Time to elect them, We could reduce the number of Fools.

Time has run out for Ricky. He was a good kid and a very nice young man, polite, kind and with a quietly quirky sense of humor. His potential will remain untapped. Hopefully the society he lived in--that We live in--will not suffer a similar fate.

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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