Happy Arbitrary Line In the Sands of Time

Waterplay in sand spiral by Simona:Mammaoca2008 (CC BY-NC)

Waterplay in sand spiral by Simona/Mammaoca2008 (CC BY-NC)

It’s never too late or . . . too early to be whoever you want to be. . . . You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing.
. . . I hope you live a life you’re proud of. [If you don’t,] I hope you have the courage to start all over again. ―Eric Roth
It’s not uncommon for me to be early to meetings by as much as a half a gallon. I guess the reason I am so punctual is because I have a very fluid concept of time. ―Jarod Kintz
The sun rises and sets. The stars swing slowly across the sky and fade. . . . The moon is born, and dies, and is reborn. Around millions of clocks swing hour hands, minute hands, and second hands. . . . Around goes the circle of night and day, [of weeks, months, and years] forever revolving. ―Madeleine L’Engle
Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.
―Ray Cummings


Your body is full of fascia, a network of connective tissue that keeps gravity from pooling all your organs in your feet. Outside your body, time works like fascia, keeping everything from happening at once.

Units of time―minutes, months, millennia―are arbitrary, here fashioned by an emperor’s whim, there by an enduring myth. There are dozens of models, each with their own characteristics. Which calendar you keep isn’t important―what matters is observing the passage of time.

Seasons (whether four in Upstate New York or one and a half in South Florida) are an ancient way of noting life’s cycles and tireless progression just by looking out the window. I like this model. Each autumn leaves change color and fall, days grow shorter, the air cools, and I’m reminded of all the other autumns I’ve known, how this one is both familiar and new.

You’re human: a social, meaning-making creature. You temper your instincts with critical thinking. Timekeeping is arbitrary, but its consistency and repetition help you think critically and create meaning. You pass through your calendar of choice again and again, reinforcing a framework for separating moments from one another. Like emptying the contents of your bag on the floor, spreading things out helps you see what you have and what you’re missing.

Drawing periodic lines in the sand helps orient me. Gallons, toenails, alternating moons . . . however you mark time’s passage, it helps to check in with yourself regularly. The approaching Gregorian New Year is an excellent opportunity to reassess your own goals, plans, and progress. I hope this arbitrary but reliable milestone helps you remember who you are, where you’ve been, and where you have yet to venture.


  1. Thoughtful piece, and a good perspective on the passage of time. I like your preferred ‘model’ of seeing the passing of time by seasons … though, lamentably, we don’t see 4 distinct ones here. Given this winter’s extreme conditions elsewhere, I’ll gladly take what South Florida offers, and enjoy occasionally visiting other locales for the missing 2 seasons.

    • I agree; Florida seasons have a way of suspending time, but I’m grateful for the sunshine. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts!

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