Time, he’s waiting in the wingsHe speaks of senseless thingsHis script is you and me, boy

                 Time – David Bowie

Now and Then

I’ve been thinking a lot about the relativity of time lately – as one does upon reaching a certain age or point in one’s life. How the summer days seemed endless as a schoolboy, compared to the flipbook that is my life today. I remember a spot I used to enjoy getting away to when I was young. It was on the bank of a small stream in a forest near our house and I must’ve started going there when I was about 9 years old. About a 5 minute walk from home, I would enter the forest from the point where the stream entered a storm drain on a street at the edge of the forest. Following the stream, I had to first climb over a massive old pine tree that had fallen over the bubbling brook, then proceed along a path that led deeper into the forest until I reached my destination: a small rise next to the stream in the crux of two steep hills that formed a natural valley. Plopping down, I would spread out my picnic blanket, unload my canvas school bag of its sandwich and water canteen, and sit for a couple of hours. Just me and the sound of the wind rustling through the branches while water trickled merrily past in the stream. Time stopped. Dust moats hung frozen in the light slanting through the tree branches. Insects hummed, birds chirped, the stream burbled away. Summer’s Cauldron.

A Loathing of Repetition

 I look at my watch, it says nine twenty-fiveAnd I think “Oh God, I’m still alive.”

Time – David Bowie

My main complaint about my life now is how the endless repetition of mundane tasks like shaving and brushing my teeth consumes the valuable time I have left to me. One estimation puts the time we spend brushing our teeth at about a day of brushing for every year of life. At my current age, that means I’ve already spent a little over 2 months just standing in front of a mirror cleaning my pearly whites. I also shower most mornings, consuming another 8-10 minutes a day. Fortunately, I usually don’t need to shave more than every other day (5 minutes per shave?), but then we have to factor in the time we all must spend stuck on the toilet seat. What I’m getting at is that it all adds up. And don’t get me started about the 2 hours I’ve spent commuting back and forth to work every day for the past 12 years.

Another thing that gets to me is that with age comes a recognition of recurring patterns and similarities. Life becomes more boring and predictable. I swear that even the faces of my students recur with alarming regularity. Are the older kids time travelling back to primary school? How many times have I taught that same jocular chubby kid with the sparkling eyes and the dimpled cheeks? What about the tiny elfin-faced girl with the dark hair in bangs? She seems to keep coming back again and again, as do others.

We’re All Just Working for the Weekend

As I said at the start, I feel like my life has become a child’s flip book or a version of Adam Sandler’s film, Click. One day bleeds into the next in a frenzy of activity at work as if a magical remote control is fast-forwarding through the tough parts. Soon enough, the weekend arrives and I try to slow down my perception of time like the character Valentine Michael Smith in Stranger in a Strange Land. I often escape to our summer flat on the Sea of Marmara, where I have fewer distractions. Once again, it’s just me and nature – the majestic sea beyond our balcony in place of the tiny stream of my childhood safe spot. For a little while at least, I can escape the increasing velocity of life that is sweeping me forward to its inevitable conclusion and return to a state of childish unawareness of the great weight of time.








Michael Wray

Hi, My name's Michael. I'm a writer/illustrator working as a primary ESL teacher in Istanbul. I love art, music, literature, and traveling.

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