When my sons were little, they were the ones who asked the questions about how our world worked, not me. I was too busy scrambling for answers to questions like: “Mom, where does the sun go at night?” “Mom, where is God?” “Mom, where is that tuna fish sandwich you put in my backpack last month?”
But now that they’re mostly grown, and can buy their own lunches, I recently looked for some time to ask a few questions of my own.
Well, to be honest I didn’t “look” for the time, if you want to get literal about it, because even back then time wasn’t really lost. It was right there, quietly liquefying under the crush of soccer cleats and crumpled homework. Just like that missing sandwich.
Seems like I always think about time when February turns to March. That’s because we either get an extra day in between the two months if it happens to be a leap year, or we don’t, and are shocked when March arrives. I’m always surprised to see March 1, because every year February seems to suck me into a wormhole with plans to keep me in its gloom forever and ever.
How is it that the shortest month of the year always feels like the longest? That’s one of my new questions that I’d like an answer to.
Another is, why do teenagers, with so much time in front of them, have no patience at all, while really old people whose days are numbered (like me, according to my youngest, who is 16 going on awesome) have patience to spare?
I enjoyed asking the universe these things, but it offered no response. So, I figured that maybe it was because they had already been answered by someone with a bigger brain for this kind of thing than me. Like, say, Albert Einstein.
I studied Einstein in high school, when I was the age my youngest son is now. I never really understood that space-time continuum thing-a-ma-jig. But I decided to revisit his ideas now that I’m older and wiser. (Or, just “old and weird,” for you 16-year-olds.) I looked Einstein up on my son’s smartphone. Here’s what he had to say about time, shortly before he died in 1955:
“Time has no independent existence. The separation between past, present and future is only an illusion, although a convincing one.”
Well heck Al, you’ve got me there. I guess I don’t understand you any better now than I did when I was 16. But it does seem to me like something stinks about your theory; maybe it’s just that missing tuna fish sandwich.
Still, I’d like to know what happened to Feb. 29, because I could’ve really used the extra day this year. For something that doesn’t exist, time sure is in short supply.
Mardi Link is a Traverse City writer and the author of “Isadore’s Secret.” She has also written a memoir about motherhood that will be published later this year. Send comments and questions care of the Record-Eagle or via email at email@example.com.