Before I became a dad I had no understanding of the elasticity of time. I considered time a constant. It marched ceaselessly, never wavering, never stopping. These are attributes of time, to be sure, but it was a reductive understanding. Since having the kids I’ve traveled in time, seen it slow to a crawl, marched through years in the span of an afternoon, even traveled to a time so far off I could never live to see it. Time is not simple. Clocks are simple. Time is incredibly flexible and capable of transporting you if you let go, surrender your control over it. It’s okay. You can almost always recapture it.
Other times you surrender parts of yourself to stay forever in a moment.
Meeting my wife was one of those moments. The kids are part of that moment too. That they weren’t born yet is of little import in my new relationship to time. So many factors made this moment one capable of stretching years. Despite this the moment itself has not suffered from thinning or become weak as it stays tacked in place and stretches out to stay forever with me. Quite the contrary, actually. Parts of us will always be sitting on those bar stools, hearts jumping like live wires, trying our hardest to both conceal and reveal the excitement, not wanting to scare away the other but unable to control that which we’d harnessed within for so long.
When I became a father and when I became one again time proved as malleable as ever. If I were to leave it to the clocks and the calendars there would be some difference I’d have to assign to the experience, as if the experience were split in two and by virtue of separate arrivals I’d have to assign different values to each. But to use time that way would be unfair as the moment of becoming a father is one moment, one moment that hopped forward and backward through space and time, meeting itself with perfect symmetry.
In that moment when life was shown to us, when we learned all we truly needed to know about love, we experienced one of times most beguiling characteristics. We learned that all that had passed before had been of a nature we didn’t understand. We learned that the compiled joys and pains, fits and starts that we had so bemoaned were in fact time teaching us patience, perseverance and endurance. Time always knew that we would come to understand all it had done to us and understand our lives once we could see them in the light and perspective that time was so diligently showing us. Time was a patient teacher and we very impatient students.
Since our kids have come time has managed to speed up in the macro and slow down in the micro. Each day, hour and even minute can have the potential to be excruciatingly long. Thankfully for those moments which are of endless value to the kids who will never remember them and only be able to appreciate them when they endure them from our perspective, we are able to drop them and leave them where they lie until such a time when the waves of time moving in all directions so obscure them as to make those moments disappear into the ocean. Meanwhile in the macro time seems to be packing so much of itself into each and every day that we are finding ourselves wondering how so much of it has passed. Fretting away moments here and there with sorrow that we won’t have enough time to fully experience life.
I never thought much of the time when all my moments would be up. Until I had my kids the pile seemed so large as to be inexhaustible. Then the value of each and every one of those minutes became precious. The fact was I could see in the distance that my boys piles were considerably larger than mine. At least I hope that is what I see. Now I treasure my minutes, trying my hardest, though often failing, to turn as many of my minutes remaining into moments.
Moments are the only true legacy I can leave to them, leaving time from my life and adding time to theirs, as my parents have and do for me. I don’t know that I’d value any minutes if they were endless. So the smaller the pile gets the more invested I am in making as many of them a part of my legacy for my kids as I can. Because in the end time is not only endlessly morphing, it’s also the currency of love.