The Disappearance of the Sun Below the Western Horizon

March 12, 2012
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7:30…7:31…7:57… 7:58… 7:59… 8:20…
“Zoeee, you’re late for school!”
I am in a constant war with the clock. My perfect day would have 77 hours in it.
I live for long summer days filled with endless possibilities -- painting my ceiling blue, starting and finishing a good book, learning a new piece on my violin, taking a long hike.
My head isn’t “in the clouds” as some would say. I just lack a certain awareness of time that others seem to be born with. I don’t innately look to time to regulate my life, and this poses difficulties, especially living in a culture full of people who rely on time to determine their day-to-day. 8:00 is breakfast; 12:00 is lunch; 6:00 is dinner.
At the end of my sophomore year I became aware that not everyone moved through time the way I did. But it was a frustratingly slow insight; this was no hallelujah, there was no ah-ha moment when everything became crystal clear. My younger brother Gabe was a major part of this understanding for me. He moves through time like clockwork; it’s just the way he is. I knew there was something I was missing; I just couldn’t reach out far enough to take hold of it.
It’s a funny feeling, figuring out you’re different. Refreshing, in some ways, knowing there’s a chemical reason for the way your brain works, sometimes science is soothing in that way.
I thought back to elementary school when time didn’t seem to exist, in particular when I was doing something I loved, like reading. I couldn’t just stop when time was up. When I was supposed to be sleeping, I read under the covers; when I was supposed to be eating dinner, I read under the table. I read until I finished, or until I passed out from exhaustion. Later I became aware that most of my friends had that intuitive alarm clock that told them: “Time to stop reading and go to bed now.”
Even though the way I moved through time worked for me, it wasn’t compatible with the rest of the world’s time-driven schedules and deadlines. It’s taken some discipline and lots of support, but I’ve taught myself to structure my time efficiently. When I wake up on a Saturday morning with nowhere to be, I make a list to help me stay focused and accomplish what I need to. When I’m engrossed in an art project or practicing my violin, I set the kitchen timer so I don’t lose my awareness of time altogether. Just as a biologist needs her lab, a musician needs time to practice, an athlete needs the rules of the game; I need some structure to help me effectively move through time.
In the past years I’ve realized it’s impossible to be creative and excel without structured time. I still live for long summer days filled with infinite time and endless possibilities – painting my ceiling blue, starting and finishing a good book, learning a new piece on my violin or taking a long hike. But I now understand that structured time helps me cultivate my creativity, intellect and passion. Time and I have made a truce for now.

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