I think we need some new units of measurement, some new rules.
I mean, inches, minutes, and gallons have a place, but I don’t think we should always stick with them if there’s something better on the horizon.
Because of arthritis, I have three vertebrae in my neck that are kind of fused together. Basically, while most people have seven neck vertebrae, I have four, one of which is weirdly long. I’ve never thought of myself as a stiff-necked kind of guy, but I guess I am.
That was a joke.
It does cause some issues. When I come to a stop sign and cautiously look both ways, the cars that line up behind aren’t too understanding about the time I spend looking. I move like a ballerina in a straitjacket.
If I exercise my neck regularly, I’m still more or less functional, but the process is not a pretty sight. Recently, my wife was watching me while I was exercising and commented that my range of motion isn’t spectacular. I said, “Well, I’m not an owl, if that’s what you’re saying. I’m about an eighth of an owl.”
I know physical therapists have a nifty measuring tool that nails down just how severely I’m impaired, but if you asked me how much mobility I have, would you more easily understand 27 degrees or an eighth of an owl?
A long time ago, I read a book about Japan. One of the characters explained to a Westerner that she judged time differently than he did. Whereas he was all about hours, days, and years, she would say that a pleasant evening with friends was a flower of time, while the same amount of time spent with someone rude was a stone of time.
I have no idea if that’s truly a concept that people use, but it certainly should be. I can think of many days spent in meetings that would qualify for a stone of time. Just last week, someone was telling me a story and I must admit it took about a glacier of time for them to get to the point. And it’s not just me. A friend of mine sat through a particularly boring concert, and when she got up to leave thought to herself, “I wonder who’s president now?” That’s a stone of time.
On the other hand, a memory I’ve been holding onto for about forty years was when our son was three years old, and his Christmas was magical. Every present, from toys to socks, got the same jubilant reaction. He was giddy with joy and the adults watching were weak with laughter. That was a flower of time, and like most flowers, it didn’t last long. I’ve had a few stones in my life, but so many flowers. Listening to my oldest daughter sing, watching my youngest daughter act, so many memorable sunrises and sunsets. Although those flowers don’t last long, it doesn’t mean they aren’t treasured.
I guess what I’m saying is watch out for the stones; they’ll trip you up every time. Hang onto the flowers, because they never last long enough.
Try not to get hung up on how the world measures. Whether you use owls, stones or flowers, it’s not the measurement that matters.
Copyright 2022 Brent Olson