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 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.