2006-01-05 / Editorial

You can't beat a system you can't understand

Another year flashed by or did it?
By Sam Bari

You can’t beat a system you can’t understand
Another year flashed by — or did it?

Someone with a sense of humor once said, “Time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening all at once.” As silly as it may sound, the statement is difficult to refute. However, the speed of something as important as time seems like a subject worthy of discussion. This is especially true when I have to fill a required number of newspaper inches with interesting information designed to make our alert readers at least smile while inhaling their morning coffee. That can take some time.

To get a handle on time, we must first remember that we live in a universe that is purportedly in the neighborhood of 13.2 billion years old, give or take a hundred million years on either side. Whether this data is true or not depends on whom you listen to and what you believe, although, I’m not aware of anyone being around taking notes during or immediately after the alleged big bang. However, this does mean that, in the grand scheme of things, our species has not existed for as long as it takes for a single blink of the universal eye. In the galactic history books, our existence will be lucky to have an honorable mention.

Experience tells us that the speed of time appears to vary, depending on what’s going on around us. For instance, I knew a couple that acquired a new puppy and a new baby in the same month. Surprise, surprise — neither one came potty trained. I do believe that time slowed down quite a bit for a long while in that household. What were they thinking? In this situation, it’s easy to understand how time can appear to move at a snail’s pace.

Unless, of course, you’re the baby or the dog. For them, time flies by like a rocket on steroids. Things to discover, see, break, and more diapers and carpets to soil than they ever thought possible. They’re thinking — Where did the time go?

Another example, for those who really enjoy instant non-gratification, is racing sailboats. If you’re in a race and not sailing on the lead boat, time can appear to come to a stop. Sailboat racing is the only sport where you can lose for hours, and if the race involves crossing an ocean, you can lose for days. You can feel as if you are losing for eternity. At times like this, time can take a real snooze.

Most women find that nine months of pregnancy seems to stretch time disproportionately to other slow periods in their lives. Many wonder why elephant suicides are not more common since their gestation period is three years. And then they deliver a 300 pound baby.

We also have those periods when time is in a hurry, like when your children are in their formative years. You know, after potty training, up until about 11 years old. This is that part of their life when they develop into real people who can walk, talk, and make you laugh and have fun. They are a joy. This is when time flies by faster than a Paris Hilton romance.

Unfortunately, this period of parental bliss comes to an abrupt halt when you wake up one morning to find your model child missing. He or she has been replaced by a total stranger who has the charm of Godzilla. “Who are you?” you ask. “I’m a teenager,” the person replies. The teenager claims to love you, but doesn’t like you, your family, or anything you like to do, eat, listen to, or watch. You have no idea where it came from, or how it got into your house, although it answers to the same name as your child, and looks somewhat similar in a weird way. This is when time almost comes to a stop — for about six years. Then, just as quickly as the teenager showed up, it disappears, and your child returns, all grown up, and time picks up speed again.

Then you go through the kids in college years. This is when your name is changed into one long word: “Dadgimmemoney.” These are speedy years if you measure them by the length of time needed to drain your wallet. But they are unbelievably slow if you measure them by the number of times your wallet is drained.

The children’s wedding years follow these exciting times, and they go by with extreme slowness, although, they are quick to turn you into a grandparent. Then it all starts over again. I think you get the idea.

All of the aforementioned goes to show you that time flies while we walk. And as we reflect on the past year, at least for most of us, it’s easy to see that time can fly really fast. So make good use of it. Time cannot be replaced. It’s an important part of that system we just can’t understand.

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