Who Knows Where The Time Goes?

A very long time ago, Judy Collins sang a song called “Who Knows Where The Times Goes?” that is very relevant to me now.  Play this video to hear the song, and to have a soundtrack for this essay.  Play the other two if you have the time, and especially if you don’t, and you’ll know which by the end of this story.

I’ve been retired five weeks now, and I’m constantly asking myself, where does the time go?  For my entire work life I dreamed of having more time by not having to work, and now that I don’t have to work, I’m not finding that abundance of time for which I wished so hard.  What’s happened?  I should have a third more time – where did it go?

Before I retired I read about a book a week.  I thought after retiring I’d have so much more time that I might get to read two books a week.  I’m not even reading as much as when I worked full time.  Does anyone really knows where their time goes?

I’m not watching more TV, or even doing more housework.  I’m certainly not writing more.  Days have gone into hyperdrive, and time has just disappeared – going who knows where.  I no longer think about tomorrow, and everyday is Saturday, and it’s very pleasant indeed, but I keep asking myself, who knows where the time goes?

Was time ever a commodity? 

Just because we can count the hours and minutes doesn’t mean we have them to spend and save.

“Who Knows Where the Time Goes?” is a folk song written by Sandy Denny in 1967, and here’s a tribute to her, which ends with a photo of her headstone.  She didn’t live long, and her grave marker is a very sad way we all ask where does the time go?

I’m watching a television series called Lark Rise to Candleford about life in England in the 1880s.  In one episode a craftsman comes to Candleford to build the town a clock and he warns the folk their old life will disappear when they live by the clock.  After retiring I’m living in a different dimension, without a clock, where time is disappearing.  I’m already forgetting the days of the weeks, and it’s hard to remember the days of the month, and now, even the hours of the day seem unimportant.

Time is something we have when we live by the clock.  I no longer look at the time to see that I have three more hours till lunch, or two more hours until I need to do something else.  It only intrudes when the outside world asks me to do something at a specific time.  I get up when I feel like it, I eat when I’m hungry.  I watch television when I want, from streaming or DVD, not a schedule.  I read when the urge strikes, and nap when I’m drowsy.  Sometimes it’s light outside, sometimes it’s not, and that doesn’t seem to matter anymore.

Yesterday I turned 62.  If I stopped following the calendar I wouldn’t even feel the time of getting older.  Maybe it doesn’t even matter where the time goes.  Can time be an illusion?  Maybe time only exists if we count minutes, and it ceases to exist when we don’t.  What if I was brave enough to throw away my clocks, watch and calendars?  Would time disappear completely?  Would living become timeless?

I really love this song.  Here’s another version, a more recent version.  Does it matter that there’s been 43 years since the first version?  It doesn’t feel like it, not if you’ve stopped counting the minutes. 

I know how to find the time again – if I wanted to.  All I have to do is live by the clock.  If I want my 8:30 am to 5:00 pm hours again all I have to do is live by numbers.  Require myself start writing at 8:30, and take lunch at 12, and to read between 1 and 3, and work at hobbies between 3 and 5, and I’ll find my lost time.  I don’t know if I will though.  Living without time is a different state of mind, and I’m digging my new kind of consciousness.  I just hope it’s not the land of the Lotus eaters.

JWH 11/26/13

2 Responses

  1. I absolutely love this song. I heard the Sandy Denny version before I realized that Judy Collins also did it. It’s hauntingly lovely.

  2. Happy Birthday, Jim!

    PS. Most retirees discover the same thing. I know I did. And you haven’t even started playing computer games yet. :)

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