A story for those of us, who prefer standard time…
Once upon a time there was an hour. The hour was born – of course – in an hour glass and was raised by its loving parents Month and Week, as well as by siblings and relatives connected to greater and lesser time units. It grew up in a hot country where there seemed to be lots of time. The hour laughed and played with hula-hoops and soap bubbles. The hour was in love with all things circular, spiral, and infinite. Slinkies, yo-yos and basketballs, balloons. pizzas, round swimming pools.
But childhood cannot last forever.
One day the hour learned the terrible truth: that one day it would be sacrificed – cut out, deleted, made not to exist – so that time could appear to those 2 foot creatures locked into time as having a kind of coherence. A comforting regularity that involved – oddly – light.
“You’ll be reborn, of course,” Grandfather Epoch told the hour. “And there will be a gigantic birthday party for you. It will be grand. Rowboats and canoes and diving boards will be stashed away, and the lanterns will come out. The grinning pumpkin orbs, and the rounded turkey, and the holiday ornaments of red and green.”
But the hour had a practical question.
“Will dying hurt?” the little hour asked.
“Yes,” said the grandfather. “Dying always hurts.”
“And being reborn?” the hour turned to Grandmother Era who was knitting a very long scarf with arthritic yet powerful fingers.
“What doesn’t hurt?” Grandmother Era said philosophically. “It all hurts but it all gets better. It all heals. And then it hurts again.”
“What’s the answer to this suffering?” said the hour, feeling quite afraid and desperate. It looked at the hoola-hoops and the half-eaten pizza. It could hear the two-footers getting ready with their diving boards and kayaks, excited about the light that the hour’s death would bring.
“Think small and not big,” said Era. “Think about the now,” said Grandfather Epoch. “Focus on being present.”
Just then the hour died, as the rain fell — though, not as much as was desired in this hot country where the hour lived.
Most of the two-footers went on with their activities, getting out all manner of equipment. Only a few eccentric ones missed the deceased hour, and thought of it, wished it well, and hoped for its return.
They waited and waited – these odd few ones. They painted and sang and made sculptures and photographs. And dances too. Hoping for the lost hour.
And finally, the air grew crisper and the pumpkin lanterns were carved. At last – the hour was reborn.
The hour felt wounded by its death and it knew that another death was coming. That it would always die. But the hour couldn’t dwell on such things – it was time for the birthday party!
At the hour’s birthday party, Grandma Era presented the hour with the scarf – a huge circle of colors. The hour said thank you, blew out the birthday candles and went for a walk. The time units all came too: minutes and seconds walked – as best they could — with the hour, as Era and Epoch stretched their very long legs. Eventually the entire family stopped and listened to the welcome sound of winter rain. They all commented on how good it was that at least there was more night. And soon – in the mountains snow. The hour and its family thought and took pleasure in thinking about each snow flake. How each is a momentary coldness – an art-work — both ephemeral and eternal – of exquisitely structured ice crystals, always already in the process of change.