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Worzels World - Time and cliches


Sayings become clichés because in spite of frequent use they have stood the test of time. They are usually frequently used because people recognise them as being at least partly true.

‘Time flies when you’re having fun’ is one such cliché This is as good a reason as I can think of for being miserable. Yet even under difficult and trying circumstances time still moves at an alarming rate. As Groucho Marx once observed, ‘Time flies like an arrow but fruit flies like a rotten banana’. One way or another I am struggling with the fact of a new year when it seems like such a short time since we got the last one.

We are taught, and have the habit of thinking, that time accumulates. An old person is generally thought to have amassed many years. As the old pirate of four score years said: ‘Aye matey’. This is not so. The time taken to experience life and learn what we have has not accumulated, it has vanished. Time does not add up – it is subtracted from an allocation. Time does not accumulate, it runs out. When advertisers announce that there are now only so many shopping days before Christmas it comes as shocking news yet we know how long a year is. How much more shocking is it to know just how little time we have until our lives end and all our time has run out?

Occasionally by doctors’ decree such dates are given to some. Those that know of their imminent demise seldom find this a cause for celebration. As the sand in my own hourglass becomes undoubtedly thinner on the top than on the bottom the days seem to slip by more readily and at a steadily accelerating rate. I have not studied the mathematics associated with Einstein’s theory of relativity, but I have experienced the phenomenon of time passing more quickly relative to age. It is reckoned that this phenomenon manifests due to every succeeding year being a lesser proportion of the sum of our previous experience.

Time is linear but we experience it on a logarithmic scale. No matter the reason, this does not diminish my own amazement that yet another year has passed and in the words of Ezra Pound: ‘The days are not full enough, And the nights are not full enough, And time slips away like a field mouse, Not making the earth shake’. ‘There is more than one way to skin a cat’ is another cliché with the ring of truth to it. But it is also true that every way of cat skinning is difficult and messy and few if any are welcomed by the cat. Yet the skinned cat is left in no doubt that its own time has run out. At least fur now.

On a larger scale, time itself is running out. The physical universe is gradually winding down. We measure time by the movement of our planet in conjunction with other celestial bodies and although we cannot know the day or the hour it is certain that one day this too will cease. If I had my way we would dispense with all dates, festivals, anniversaries and what-not and simply learn to live in seasons, taking each day as it comes. But since this is not, nor is likely to be, the case, as we consign another year to the old, rusty and seldom accessed filing cabinet of history I would like to thank all those who have read my words this year and those who have taken some of their precious time to send feedback. Our hold on this physical world is both tenuous and temporary. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. No matter whether you are 8, 18 or 80, time is short.

There is not enough time for pettiness, there is not enough time for meanness. There is barely time enough for love. Although we are confined within the limitations of time and space and it is an obvious truth that all of what we know in this world is passing away we should also realise that the end of time is but the beginning of eternity and death no more than a doorway. With this in mind I would like to encourage everyone to contemplate what is actually important and what is not in this fleeting space of time we call our lives. So for my last cliché I would like to wish you a ‘happy new year’.

No matter how it turns out, be grateful for the time because time and tide waits for no man.

„ Feedback? Email prof_ worzel@hotmail.com

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