Time with Its Power

robin williamsWe sense so poorly that we too will die, like the every-young-seeming Robin. Ill chance and age come upon us as such an utter surprise.

I’m 65 now – 65! But can I be really, when I feel like the same 14-year old who dawdled home from school with her pyramid of books clutched against her chest, back in that long-ago time before anyone dreamed up such a thing as a backpack for the poor schoolkids? Instead we had bookbags – the boys used them more than the girls I seem to remember. I know I never could use a bookbag. What, let the History book and the French book, the Latin grammar and the tome that was Biology spill randomly into some sack?  No. I carried those books like an offering, as I walked dreamily home from the bus stop, enjoying this small slice of time when I was sure no teacher would call on me, where no conductor of a 9th orchestra would raise her eyebrows in my direction as Second Violin. Soon enough I would be home and laboring under the burden of all those assignments. This was my time, and it often seemed, my only time.

Yes, I am thinking on Time today as I think of Robin gone from the world now; as I picture Billy Crystal, once that fresh-faced kid from Long island…

billy crystal young

…now looking more like Kim-Jong-Il in his later days:

billy crystal now


I wonder at the power Time has over us all. Here is a passage from In Football Season, from John Updike’s collection The Early Stories that sums up for me exactly how wide that sky does seem when we are young. He speaks of the nights when he and his high school classmates would choose to walk the three miles home from the football game in a neighboring town, and felt that they had the night, and Time, all to themselves.

How slowly we went! With what a luxurious sense of waste did we abuse the stretch of time! For as children we had lived in a tight world of ticking clocks and punctual bells, where every minute was an admonition to thrift and where tardiness, to a child running late down a street with his panicked stomach burning, seemed the most mysterious and awful of sins. Now, turning the corner into adulthood, we found time to be instead a black immensity endlessly supplied, like the wind.

Would that it were. Would that time were endlessly supplied.


4 thoughts on “Time with Its Power

  1. Hi Terry!!!…Do you know that when I was your teacher, I was only 12 years older than you!!!…Len..(Mr. Flynn to you) xxxxoooo


  2. Terry,
    Why does August take our best? 52 years ago and 6 days Marilyn Monroe left us.
    In 1962 July & August each had 31 days. Recent summers have shrunken them to about 15 days each. Maybe it was because in 1962 each summer day had the same amount of daylight. Terry who made the changes? Maybe Mr. Flynn knows.

  3. Interesting on several levels. Yes, Kim Jong Il (reality show: When Men Dye Their Hair); the books always sliding around in their grocery bag “covers”; how kids today don’t seem to worry when they’re late (no fear of authority); how handsome Robin Williams was. Oh–and you are not “65”. Probably never will be.

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