On Time

JRR Tolkien once wrote:

This thing all things devours: Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.

If there is one thing I’ve learned in college, it’s that time waits for no one.

Time is a curious concept. It has existed before us, it defines us, and it destroys us. Time is what we share with our predecessors, and what we yield to our successors. Time is a cruel master, and a forgiving lord. In short, time is a paradox that we have to explain why wounds heal, why children become adults, why we rush about. It is an attempt to explain why we exist.

When I was a child, time was something that was found in the cakes and spaghetti of birthdays past. Time was the number of school days and the number of school breaks. Time was the rising of the sun, and its setting. As a child, when I slept, I assumed that the entire world slept. But no, time does not stop with the setting of the sun.

I’ve only learned to wear a watch when I was becoming a young man. The watch has become such a necessity for me, especially for my college years. It has made my heart beat faster with its ticking during examinations. It has helped me measure the vital signs of my patients. It has mocked me during the wee morning hours as I doted on the many requirements of my education. It has woken me up in the same wee morning hours, ordering me to get ready for work. At the lowest points of my life, I have grown to hate time. A cruel master. But I’ve learned through these years that time cannot be hated.

For time is like a good parent: they don’t take any excuses, and they certainly don’t take any of your bullsh*t. But like a good parent, time makes you grow. Its gears continually move forward, and one is forced to go forward, or go forward. No other way but forward. This fact about time has made me feel intimidated about it, but now I have learnt to appreciate this subtle truth. Time moves us to greater heights, develops calluses upon our hands, gives meaning to what we are. For what is a scholar without the many sleepless nights of study, a saint without the years of meditation, a king without his battles?

Everyone is pushed by time to become greater. No one is left behind. Even the souls who have sunk into the abyss of despair, those who have given up, those who have lost it all, time stands by their side. A forgiving lord. Time gives us a chance to redeem ourselves. We look at the world and become embittered by it, by the rat-race of this fast-paced world. Time is not a record to be broken, not a test to be finished, but a chance, an opportunity.

While time waits for no one, it leaves no one behind.

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  1. I… disagree. 😛 I am of the belief that time does leave people behind. La lang. Just saying. 😛


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