On Making Much of Time

I’ve finished Ducks, Newburyport! Yes, I turned the final page yesterday afternoon and it was all over bar the pages of acronyms which need explaining especially to the unAmerican reader. I don’t know if I have a language in which to post a review but the one on Hilary Mantel is still brewing and will appear soon. Meanwhile I’ve been thinking about time.

It was only because of the lockdown that I had the time to devote to these two marathon books. I’d probably have read the Hilary Mantel anyway but the Lucy Ellmann requires so much concentration that I’d likely have given it up as a bad job. Time is very much on my mind at the moment, as is death, given that we have plenty of both, so: suppose you had only 24 hours to live and (improbably) during those 24 hours were well and active. What would you do? I guess most of us would rush around like Homer Simpson in this episode trying to get everything done; trying to make the most of time.

But how do we make the most of time? Lots of people make bucket lists when they get to retirement, then they start ticking things off. Go to Australia, run a marathon, read Proust. Grow cabbages. Is that the way? There’s nothing wrong with it, and it’s a heap better than vegetating in front of Antiques Roadshow. But maybe, rather than trying to get everything done before we die a better way of making the most of time is to be the most we can before we die. To be with ourselves, to spend time getting to know ourselves and our families, to relate better to each other. To sit and think, or just to sit.

It seems to me that our entire culture was based on breaking the fourth dimension, bending time to our will, expanding the hours in the day, shrinking distances and saving time, always saving time. We made time our slave. We thought to have broken time. But time breaks us.

Kirk out