Tick, Tock

June 15, 2012
When my alarm goes off at seven o’clock, all I want to do is get up. Sometimes I try and cheat myself into resting for a few extra minutes – all it takes is one humble push of the snooze button to shut that annoying noise off – but I know I’ll regret it. My day has begun, and is already getting smaller with each ear-splitting beep. Today I’ve got seven classes and a baseball game to fill my schedule. The clock’s always ticking, counting down how many minutes I have left. So far it has effectively ticked away twelve years. But never mind that now. Today I think I’ll sleep in.

It takes longer than I anticipated to coax myself out of bed and into the morning routine. Task one is to get to the bus before eight o’six. Unfortunately, beating the clock isn’t exactly my expertise; it happens to be competitive. Running from the driveway to a waiting bus isn’t unheard of on tough mornings. Thank God for patient bus drivers.

I’ve got a six hour school day waiting, but it all begins by stepping onto the blacktop. Managing time bit by bit is a good thing, right? The bell rings, signaling the end of recess and the whole school files into their classrooms. I shove my backpack into my locker, trying to hammer it in as fast as possible. I hear someone shout behind me, “Let’s go, people! You’re wasting time!”

I stop for a moment to consider this. What does wasting time really mean? We’re given, what, seventy years, plus or minus? A locker slams behind me, and then another. A lot of people aren’t given as much time as they deserve, sadly. Time is limited, yes, but can it be wasted? I slam my locker, leaving my backpack leaning dangerously against the door. I’m late for gym.

The morning passes by swiftly, as usual. I leave gym and proceed to Spanish and math. There’s something compelling about morning classes. Even though they’re actually longer altogether, they somehow sneak by without anyone noticing. Anyways, in math we are finally given the date of the test, the biggest one of the quarter that is worth a few seconds of panicked thoughts. I open my agenda, and carefully record the date. Friday the twenty-first. That gives me a week to prepare. Got it.

In most parts of my life, deadlines are everything. I face them every day, and so does everyone else in the world. There’s a deadline for when the cookies are ready, for the paper due next week, and for the final bid on Ebay. Now that I stop and think about it, life is a deadline. Eventually, everything reaches its ultimate due date and passes away. Like Great Grandma and Grandpa. I tend to wonder about them a lot. Their clocks stopped cold before mine even started ticking. Tick, tock. Life is a clock. It works until you take the batteries out. Tick, tock...
I hear the bell and realize that I’ve been out of touch for ten minutes. Math ends, reading goes by, and then I proceed to lunch. I hurry to the lunch line – getting there first means that I won’t have to spend nearly my whole lunch standing still – and end up getting pushed to the middle of the line. Oh, well. Worse things could happen. Lunch and recess go by quickly (time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it?). The school day begins to fold with two more periods remaining. During the last of the two, I find myself glancing at that second hand again, that little beast. Right now, it seems to be moving so slowly, as if purposely delaying the journey to its destination, three-fifteen. The teacher manages to squeeze in the end of the lesson before she is cut off by the bell. Another deadline has made itself known.

The bus ride home is unusually quiet today. The normal loud debating has reduced to a mild chat, and I like it. It takes twenty minutes for the bus to roll in to my stop, but I don’t consider it time wasted. Soon, I’m back at home, where just seven hours ago I awoke to the sound of my alarm. It feels like it was yesterday. Anyways, now it’s time to go wherever my schedule takes me. After that, I’ll head off to bed and hopefully remember to set my alarm, or even change the sound.

Sometimes when I’m trying to fall asleep, I think. About tomorrow, and the day after. Maybe next week. Next year. Sometimes, I’ll even think about my distant life. What I might be like, what I might be doing. It seems so far away that I don’t even have to worry about it now. But someday, if the clock permits me, I’ll be that future self that I imagine. Does that make sense? I hope so. Someday I won’t worry about the same things, I won’t have the same deadlines; it’s only a matter of time. I’ll still be me, though, the same old me, whoever he is. Until then, I’ve got a lot of time to live my life. And I’ll be sure to make those seconds count.

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