The Passage of Time

a radio commentary broadcast on Jefferson Public Radio's The Jefferson Daily
Tuesday, June 10, 1997
(c)1997 by Fred Flaxman

HOST: Time passes very quickly for our regular Tuesday commentator, Fred Flaxman. But he still takes a couple of minutes every now and then to reflect on time itself.

FLAXMAN: Ever since I bought my first digital clock radio, 11:11 has been my favorite time. It is the only time that reads the same left-to-right and right-to-left. Its classical, perfect balance appeals to my sense of aesthetics. It is my ideal time for going to bed. It is the time I wish I could get up on Sunday mornings.

Time is going by so fast for me now that I can hardly believe how slowly it passed all during my childhood. During what seemed like the hundreds of years I spent in school, I kept wishing that time would go faster.

"When will June come? Oh, how I wish it were June" I would tell my mother. And she always gave me what I thought at the time was the most ridiculous reply:

"Never wish the time away," she said. "It will go fast enough when you're older."

My mother was - as mothers and Einsteins often are - completely right. Time is relative. It passes at different rates for the young and the old, the busy and the bored, the happy and the heartbroken.

If only life were a videocassette machine you could fast-forward when things were sad or dull, play in slow motion when you wanted to savor every moment, repeat over and over again when you desired to bask in the best segments -- and erase when you made mistakes!

But it isn't. Life is more of a washing machine. It keeps going until it's finished, putting you through the same cycles as the rest of the great unwashed, beating you mercilessly, cleaning you out, and eventually pulling you apart at the seams, fraying your edges and drowning you.

Which makes me wonder why I continue to celebrate birthdays and the beginning of new years. Once out of school, why should anyone want to fete the increasingly rapid passing of the washing machine's cycles?

My mother will be 90 years old in July. My wife and I are planning a trip across the country to be with her on her birthday. She said she'd be happy to see us any time, but that it was not important to her that we be there on that particular day. She's happy to be alive and healthy, she told me, but doesn't want to make anything special of her birthday.

I think she's right, as usual.

This is Fred Flaxman

HOST: Commentator Fred Flaxman lives in Jackson County's Griffin Creek area, where he's working on a book called Doctors, Dentists, Dishwashers, and Other Demons of Modern Life.