Time (Clock of the Heart)

Always elusive and difficult to understand, I can’t fully explain the nature of time. I only know for creative types, it’s our greatest resource. Two things are certain in this life: you will always have more to learn, and you will never have enough time. Everything you do takes tremendous amounts of work, and it all takes time…and this “thing” that we need is relative. It never stays still. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, it will dart out of your hands like a scared animal. In my younger days, I often seemed to have time to practice my music. After college, everything changed and I was too busy working to pursue creative endeavors. Now, ahem, in middle age, I have a much clearer perspective on my creative goals- but it seems I still don’t have enough time for anything. As always, I am haunted by the dichotomy of possessing the need to create, but also having the reality of not enough time.

Why is that, and what exactly is time? Let’s take a closer look at our elusive friend:

Experts offer differing views that characterize the nature of temporal measurement. Stephen Hawking wrote, “Time flows like a river and it seems as if each of us is carried relentlessly along by time’s current.” 1980s philosopher Boy George posited “…time makes lovers feel like they’ve got something real.” But none of this gets us any closer to a coherent understanding of time itself. Maybe what we need is an actual Time Lord. The Doctor (from Doctor Who), put it this way:

“People don’t understand time, it’s not what you think it is…People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually from a non-linear/non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey wimey…stuff.”

Like I said, it’s hard to define. Maybe it’s easier to say what we need it for: to do stuff, to get things done. And therein lies the rub: Time is the hardest resource to come by. How do we get more? One way is to build up “time equity” through self-sacrifice and discipline. And if one desires to turn their art into a living, that goes tenfold. Successful Internet and wine entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk stated in an interview:

“We need escapes, but I want you to understand this. If you are playing Wii for four hours a day, or if you are watching football for 10 hours a day, you’re not entitled to complain about your job. You’re not. Everything has a price. I’m jealous that you get to play the Wii so much. I’m jealous that I’m not fishing all day today or laying on a beach, but there’s a price to be paid for success.”

Artists really see time in a totally different way. Normal people see two states of being: work time, and time when they are free. However, artists are only truly free when they are working on their art, and the rest of the time they are just busy with life. At least people can see a painting or a sculpture in progress. Because writing is a private endeavor by nature, people tend not to respect the writer’s process. Even J.K. Rowling has had trouble with finding time for her work.

“Be ruthless about protecting writing days…The funny thing is that, although writing has been my actual job for several years now, I still seem to have to fight for time in which to do it. Some people do not seem to grasp that I still have to sit down in peace and write the books, apparently believing that they pop up like mushrooms without my connivance.”

Screenwriter Lawrence Kasdan once said, “Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.” I would take it one step further. Being (or trying to be) a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life, and you’re always behind, and there’s never enough time. But I suppose then that is why time is like a “clock of the heart.” For because of it, we’re willing to make such personal sacrifices to do what we love.

Source: AdviceToWriters, The Daily Galaxy, Income Diary, Doctor Who- Season 3, Episode 11- Blink, written by Steven Moffat


23 thoughts on “Time (Clock of the Heart)

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  1. This is spot on. Everyday I am compelled to write something, anything. Blogging has helped with that urge so I don’t go crazy, but the urge and the pull is still strong.

    Being a SAHP and trying to write are two full time jobs: both require a lot of attention, and if you pay attention to just one, the other will be lacking.


    1. It’s more like three full time jobs: taking care of little one(s), creative endeavors and such, and taking care of the house/cleaning. Yikes. It’s a lot. But somebody’s gotta do it.


  2. My idea of ‘free’ time went out the window a while ago. There seems to have been a once-upon-a-time when I could sit and read for hours on end – what a luxury – whereas now, my ‘free’ time is mostly writing time, which, technically, is work time. So my free time is actually work time.

    *runs off to corner and cries*

    PS an EXCELLENT ep of Doctor Who. Do you get the new series over there? Was a classic episode week before last, had me weeping into my biscuits.


    1. We do, it’s on BBC America. However, I don’t get cable so it’s no go for me. We can stream up to (I think it’s) last year on Netflix. Anyway, we’re up to the first year of Matt Smith here. I dig it. I like the new people, they’re all fun. Even Rory.


  3. BEAUTIFUL. This might be my favorite post of yours yet. Time is ever elusive and fleeting, they say. I agree. Depression steals a lot of mine, but I am working on learning how to share that stolen time for things that benefit me. That probably doesn’t make sense. It’s hard to explain.

    Keep writing and keep being a good daddy and everything else will fall into place.
    The Universe is listening and the wheels are already turning, even if it seems like there’s never enough time for accomplishments, you’re making them every day.


  4. Excellent post, Jeff! I’ve been thinking about this lately, as I’ve allowed my blog to suffer. My XBox 360 dying on me was probably one of the best things to ever happen to me as an aspiring artist (creative type, wherever that may take me).

    There will always be roadblocks. The adventure is in overcoming them.


    1. “There will always be roadblocks. The adventure is in overcoming them.”

      True dat. It’s just hard sometimes to see that when you’re down in it. I guess we all need reminders from time to time.


  5. Great post! I’ve tried so many things to cheat time – like my clock set half an hour fast – but always seem to run out of time. And funny how my boys seem to have all the time in the world! Thanks for your comment on my blog!


  6. Great insight! Time passing quickly seems to be a theme for me! It’s got to be the moments that we hold closely that make the time slow down.


  7. Brilliant post. I’ve enevr rally thought much about time, but I still never have enough. And evening most certainly seem to disappear! I have my days planned out as routine is very important to children, so it is all structured like a clock. Time doesn’t have much meaning, but the numbers do


    1. It’s hard to find the time, especially with working and little ones, but it’s also important to have something that you do that helps to make you a rounded person- if that makes sense.


  8. I have read Kasdan’s comment before and, boy, it resonated. I find I love the process of creating the story; when I need to make sure it’s cohesive, well-structured, etc., then I sort of get overwhelmed and it feels like a chore.

    And now that I’m older, when I squeeze out extra “time” at the beginning or end of my day (and thus, I’m not getting the hours of sleep that this ol’ bod requires) I can’t keep it up for too long. I needs my sleep! So, I can have the energy for raising of the child, laughs and connecting with the child; being chef, laundress & maid; oh, yeah, and make money. Oiy. I do wish someone could tell me how to squeeze a few more hours out of our 24-hour day!

    Thanks, Jeff!


    1. Yeah, it’s just like that. Sometimes I try and just stay up late or get up at 5 AM or earlier for a stretch, but I can’t keep that up for long. Then everything I do suffers because I get so tired. It’s like a never-ending cycle, because then I’ll take a break from things (like writing), get unhappy, then start getting up early again to do it. At least it’s important to keep trying different schedules, options, something will work someday.


  9. I like the wide range of quotes here and, really, more writers should quote Stephan Hawking and Boy George in the same paragraph. However, I starkly disagree with whinyboy Gary Vaynerchuk because everyone has a right to complain about their job. After all, this a quality, not quantity issue. If a job sucks, it will suck no matter how long it takes to do.

    Still, I suppose the point is to illustrate the value various people place on time. I suspect that it’s impossible to make general pronouncements about time as one’s perspective is always shifting as time passes. For instance, I find it amazing that the year 2011 has nearly passed; where did it all go? I feel like somewhere along the line I got gypped of a few months. Why can’t time just slow down for a bit so I can come to terms with its passing, maybe complete a few tasks I’ve been putting off before another year dawns? However, contrast such feelings with waiting for your next payday, waiting for the last hour to pass at a boring office job, waiting for a delayed commuter train or test results from a physician. The moments then become like drawn out agonies, each one seemingly failing to bring one any closer to the anticipated moment. Perhaps then, we can only appreciate time in regards to context, for in theory, a minute is a minute and so forth, and one unit of time is no longer or shorter than another unit of the same length. Time then is valueless, apart from its mere measure; it is the what, where, who and how of a moment which creates its value.


    1. Nice.
      Re: Gary Vaynerchuk. Of course, sucky jobs are sucky jobs. The context of his comment was, let’s say I was working some sucky desk job. But I dream of being a writer and working for myself. If I play Xbox 360 all day on the weekend, and all night during the week (thus not working on my writing), then I would have no excuse to complain about my sucky job- because I would be doing nothing to better myself. It’s like: if you’re stuck somewhere you hate, do something to get out of it- and here’s the tools, so to speak. If one isn’t doing the work, then one shouldn’t complain about their stuckness.

      Re: time. good thoughts. And time is passing…”all the time.” See what I did there? But don’t worry, you’ll get to catching up on the Twilight movies soon enough. 😉


  10. Re: Vaynerchuk. I suppose I missed that nuance and imagined he was merely taking a swipe at those of us who have too much time on their hands. However, many people, myself included, look at jobs as a way to pay for their lives as opposed to those who regard their job as their life or at least some overlarge portion thereof. Hence, we will take a crappy job and stick with it as we feel that, in regards to time and money or some balance of the two, it’s meeting our basic needs. (Remember McJobs?) Now wasting our time beyond work hours is another issue and I’d agree that watching football and playing Wii probably aren’t the best uses of surplus time. (Unless maybe you’re playing Wii v. a girl dressed up as a maid? http://www.kohspot.com/bangkok/happenings/akiba-kiss-bangkok-maid-cafe/) However, I suppose the way we spend our time is our business and we don’t need internet gurus telling us we can do better. After all, we can’t all be Mozarts or Hemmingways and at the end of the day some poor unsatisfied slacker will have to be available to make Mr. Vaynerchuk his soy latte or detail the custom rims on his Mercedes S 65 AMG. Sure, I’m all for self improvement and those who have made it no doubt have some valuable advice to share. (They didn’t make it by accident, after all.) But if I’ve learned one thing in my life, it’s that some people are born to complain and perhaps as a result get the life they deserve. (Fortunately I’ve learned other things as well.) I suppose underachievers console themselves by not ‘selling out’ and by insisting they’re doing it their way. I imagine riding around on a bitchin’ fixie helps too.

    And, yes, I finally did catch up on all the Twilight movies!


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