Sands of Time

Sands of Time

Eden Witelson, Guest Writer

I wish I understood why so many people are chronically late. I myself live in a family that is remarkably gifted in the art of being late to anything and everything. If money could be made off of such a talent, my family would amass inconceivable fortune with their incurable tardiness. I have come to regard the habitually late as lost souls, cursed to wander the earth, leaving behind them a trail of bitter, resentful, inconvenienced bystanders. Despite my view of those who live the “late life,” experiencing it myself has offered a unique insight into my own personality.

It was the summer of 2012 and my family was invited to an afternoon birthday party. To this day, I still wonder how it is possible to be almost two hours late to a birthday party five minutes away. The answer still eludes me, but if I really put my mind to it, I would hypothesize that we were late because my father took a “quick nap” before we left. In truth, my father doesn’t “nap;” he hibernates for periods of no less than two hours. These “naps” are miraculously triggered by the knowledge that we have somewhere to be in the near future. I used to imagine having to detonate explosives outside to alert him of the fact that we, the conscious, were dressed and ready. I was just eleven years old, looking forward to yet another party, with its ice cream, bouncy house, and other fantastic things that one might find at birthday parties. While my family was scrambling around in chaos, I stood watching. I had set an alarm, taken a nap, and gotten dressed. Then I waited. When we got to the party two hours late, I experienced a new, unfamiliar feeling that was tinged with disappointment. This was not because all the ice cream was gone (I did not really care about that) or the bouncy house that was now crammed with children. No, this new feeling was sprouting from a different seed: I was late. I let this idea fester within the confines of my mind, and all at once I realized that I had missed something. Maybe not a crucial moment in my life, but it was nonetheless lost, whole hours of experiences squandered.

Punctuality means much more than simply being on time; it’s about valuing the very experience of life.

— Eden Witelson

I think my loathing for lateness has always existed somewhere within myself, developing slowly, revealing itself as I matured. I suspect it all stems from the realization that life has a finite endpoint. I may not know when that endpoint will be, but the seconds are always counting down to it, falling away like grains of sand through an hourglass. To be late is to miss life’s seconds: seconds of joy, seconds of pain, seconds of knowledge, seconds of love, and seconds of laughter. Every grain of life that slips away in one’s lateness contains an experience. Punctuality means much more than simply being on time; it’s about valuing the very experience of life.

I can still picture myself standing abashed in the midst of that birthday party. In the depths of my embarrassment, a seed of disappointment had blossomed into an early detestation of lateness. I made no vow to never be late, no solemn oath of punctuality, but the feeling lingered in my mind and influences me to this day. As I gaze forward into the possibilities of my life, I see a great deal of experiences on the horizon, a swirling mass of sand grains in my life-long hourglass. I will have family to visit, projects to complete, a career to pursue, adventures to go on, and obstacles to face. But no matter the occasion, I know that I will arrive, watch perfectly set, with the satisfaction that I am indeed precisely on time.