I stopped using the Fitbit for anything but a watch. A day at work gives me 10,000 steps by the time the whistle blows, this I’ve learned, and the sleep tracker tells me nothing I don’t already know about how little time I spend sleeping. And we say time can be spent, like money, like we earn amounts of it to cash in, when really there is no such thing as time, only now, and really there is no such thing as money, only our agreement about these things makes them work, when the now at 2 o’clock is no different from the now at 6 o’clock, and the paper is the same on all the bills, and the numbers in the bank are just blips on a screen and we trust them.
The rain washes away the pollen, washes clean the wind that whips around the spring in Texas, making things bloom and sneeze. I drop the girls off at school, stop for coffee on the way home, take Maggie for a walk. She tugs at her leash, lunging after a rabbit crouched in the neighbors’ yard, and that’s as wild as the wildlife gets here. I flashback to Ohio, the girls sitting at the kitchen table when three deer step lightly out of the trees and begin to nibble the back yard. The girls’ hearts stop and they gasp and their eyes go wide like the deers’ and we all put our finger to our lips and say shhhh. This memory I experience now, the same now as when we experienced the deer. Neither now started, neither one stopped, but the charge on the Fitbit doesn’t last as long anymore.
Time is strange, malleable, fluid, unreal outside our agreement on it, but I have more to spend here on day one of whatever comes next now that I’ve quit my job. Twenty years, by some accounts, depends who’s counting, and whether the five years before the first time I quit counts (I count it, they don’t). Now I have time to help my brother move back from the west coast, time to write, time to fly to India, find a guru. This was supposed to reduce stress but now comes the stress I put on myself for leaving my job and the fear that things will collapse in my wake. I still have some calls to make, though I’m off the clock, on my own time so to speak, but there’s a loose end needs tying up.
In the evening I walk Maggie again, practice not thinking, turning off what in the Zen tradition they call monkey mind. I imagine the ground passing under me like a treadmill, like I’m not moving, just moving my feet as the road treadmills under me, pulling it and pushing it left or right to turn. The next day in the bookstore, the sensation persists without effort, I’m motionless as the floor passes under me, and at one point I feel a rush of energy, and a table full of books approaches, feels like an extension of me and I reach for it wondering what will happen when I touch it, will it be there. All the authors lying there are dead, Tolstoy, Dickens, Lao Tzu, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and their books lay like tombs full of words, voices calling from the grave saying hear what I had to say. All the words are present now, it just takes time to read them.
Time is not real, just practical. It keeps everything from happening at once. I flip my wrist and the Fitbit shows me a battery with a bit of red. I’m dead, it says. Out of time.
inspired by Bill Pearse, Walk on guilded splinters
featured image: The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dali