"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Time's a wastin'!

“Time’s a wastin’!” would yell my favorite comic strip character from long ago, Snuffy Smith, a hillbilly who was never in a hurry. We always had time to read about his antics on Sunday mornings.

Today though, we’re always behind. “The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get” is not a joke.

When man measured time by daylight and dark, by the full moons, by the seasons, he had more time than we do. He worked harder, too more risks, died sooner, but had less ulcers.

Then we divided the days into hours and then seconds. Today we deal with microseconds, nanoseconds, millihertz and no telling what other infinitesimal measures of less and less time.

Each new technological invention comes with a price of less time. From seasonal clocks like Stonehenge, to sun clocks and water clocks to medieval calendar clocks, man progressed toward less and less time. Sailing the world demanded hours and minutes for navigation. Trains required telegraphs and sending time long distance.

The world is speeding up as slow time disappears, and we’re increasing enslaved to faster technology that was supposed to help us. We’ve got more and more labor saving devices and less time to enjoy life.

Last year’s computer was fast, compared to the one you had two years ago. But then this year’s version appeared. The tool—the servant-- becomes the master.
Fast-time technology has disturbing side effects.

Our attention spans are reverting back to first grade levels—thanks to fast forward and channel surfing zappers. Commercials have shrunk to 15 seconds. Newspaper stories are shrinking. We get impatient quickly whether waiting for a traffic light to change or for a computer modem to load an Internet page in 5 seconds instead of 10. We’ll zoom through a changing traffic light just to save perhaps two minutes.

We’ve conquered darkness with 24 hour news and shopping. Our cars go 75 miles per hour down Broadway Extension, and our aircraft over 500 miles per hour….

As slow time disappears, those who live by it are becoming extinct. The holdovers from the ages of slow time include farmers who depend on the seasons, and not on seconds, and they’re disappearing.

We have longer life spans, but do we really have more time?

I somehow think the Oklahoma homesteader of 100 years ago had a longer living span, because he lived slower—plowing land behind a team of horses, riding to town in a buggy at four or five miles per hour, buying a sack of flour from a store clerk who spent part of the day whittling and telling stories around a cracker barrel—enjoying life longer than we do, always in a hurry, ruled by computers we can’t keep up with.

We’ve come a long way baby, but we’re losing our divinity in the process.
Scripture says a day is as a thousand years for God. No wonder most folks don’t have time for him—an hour a week is a big sacrifice.

Jesus walked everywhere, had three years to complete his job, and we never read about him being in a hurry. We never walk anywhere, and we’re always in a hurry.
Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 3 that there’s a time for everything…but he never mentions a time to be in a hurry.

He probably would say that’s it’s time to end this article, and he’s right…Any longer, and I’ll lose your shortening attention. Time’s up!

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