twelve thoughts on time
By Taban Isfahaninejad
One. This world is full of clocks.
Two. This world is full of clocks that speak. They burrow into my ears with their ticking, they ring and chime
gentle reminders that I cannot escape the concept of time that has elected itself as dictator of the
Earth. There is a clock on my phone, and on my computer, on my wrist and on the wall, in my alarm clock,
all constantly buzzing their conversations into my ears.
Three. I lean down to the bathroom sink to splash water on my face and when I straighten up the clock above
the sink reads “1:15 PM.” I do not interpret 1:15 PM as 1:15 PM. I interpret it as a stop sign, as a signal to wait
45 more minutes, as a countdown to 2:00 PM. I interpret it as meaning that I should think of the 45
minutes between now and that abstract number in the future, as time that I am completely incapable of
Four. There’s another clock that hangs in the sky and that I share with everyone on this earth and with every
planet in this solar system. I think of it as shining down even though logically I know that it shines evenly
in every direction. This clock is called the sun.
Five. This clock is called the sun.
Six. This clock is called the sun, and I am a number on an analog clock-face, waiting for the hour where it’s my turn
to be pointed at by this clock’s short arrow, and then waiting for the minute within that hour where the
sun’s long arrow reaches out and actually touches me. The sun is a clock, and its position tells me to get
up, because it’s morning, and I make my bed, because that is how I interpret the rising of the sun.
My definition of morning is making my bed. If I lived in a windowless cubicle with no concept of light or
time or sun, I would still call the moment I got out of bed and straightened my bed sheets “morning.”
Seven. I don’t like the sun. It’s a reminder of everything that I am failing to do, and it hurts my eyes to look at. I
like the sky.
Eight. I like the sky. The sky is not a clock. The sky is a gradient, colour-changing wall. Science has an explanation
for the colours of the sky, and science tries to tell me, but I refuse to listen. I think the sky is a giant
Nine. There’s a clock that sits on my windowsill. It’s green and growing, or at least it’s supposed to be. Right now
its leaves are dry, brittle, and broken. I look at the clock, which is also a plant, which is also a living
being, which is also a responsibility, which is also a self-inflicted curse. This self-inflicted curse—sorry,
plant—tells me I haven’t been watering it consistently. The plant tells me I’m late. The plant tells me I missed
a due date. I don’t try to save the plant. I missed the due date, so I will have to take the zero. There is no
other option. I equate this to a failure. I equate this to a death sentence. I equate myself to a murderer.
I wonder what else I am capable of killing. I wonder if I am capable of keeping anything, or anyone alive.
I include myself in this statement.
Ten. I wonder how many of the people I know are clocks. I wonder how many of them are stopwatches. I wonder
how many of the people I know are counting the seconds down instead of the seconds up. I wonder what
the difference is between a clock and a stopwatch. I think maybe it’s that a clock goes in endless circles,
living in the moment, more focussed on living than counting and a stopwatch works in totals, in goals, in
laps, in milestones defined by some arbitrary standard.
I wonder if I am a clock or a stopwatch. I wonder which I want to be. I wonder whether my preference
matters at all. I think maybe it does not.
Eleven. I wonder how long a second is. The internet tells me that a second is 1/86400th of a day, but I don’t want
to think in days, I think days are too long. I think days are ½ sleep and the other half a countdown to sleep.
I think life is a countdown to sleep. I think life is just one very long day. I ask the internet what the unit
of measurement is for the time inside a second, and the internet tells me that a second is 1000 milliseconds.
The internet tells me that a millisecond is 1000 microseconds. The internet tells me that a microsecond is
1000 nanoseconds, so I ask the internet how long a nanosecond is to get the next unit of measurement, but
instead google tells me that a nanosecond is 1/1 000 000 000 of a second, and we are back to fractions of
seconds, which are fractions of days, which are fractions of our lives that I am wasting thinking about
fractions when I don’t even like math.
Twelve I look at the clock. I have spent ten minutes on the length of a second. It is now 2:10 PM. I will have to wait
50 minutes to be productive again.
Taban Isfahaninejad is a 16-year-old aspiring author and teacher who enjoys writing poetry, fiction and short stories in her free time. Her favourite authors are Lucy Maud Montgomery, Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. She is interested in cooking, classic literature, art, and gardening.