Tilting the Hourglass: Slowing down time

If you could stop time and look around, what would you see?  As parents, we live busy lives. If you are like me, we’re always pushing the kids to get ready a quickly. “Come on – we have to go! Why don’t you have your shoes on, yet?” Between working (sometimes more than one job) and keeping up with our kids’ lives, we just don’t seem to have time. As we keep active and try to keep on schedule for the next activity, we often miss what is actually happening.

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This buzz of activity often gets in the way of things we like to do. One of those things for me is reading. Making time to read for more than a few minutes is tough for me because of work, life, and parenting constraints, not to mention feeling guilty when I do take a few minutes to myself. I always enjoy learning something when I do take that moment, however.

I just finished reading The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom. In the book, Father Time spends some time on Earth and he discovers has the power to tilt his hourglass sideways and pause time. People freeze. The buzz of sound comes to silence. He is able to truly look at a situation from multiple angles and really examine what is happening. As I was reading this book on our small balcony overlooking our townhouse parking lot, I took a moment to freeze time. I stopped reading. I looked at all I wasn’t seeing – all I wasn’t truly aware of. I became aware of my daughter in the living room on her phone with the TV on. Below me, I saw my son playing with a rubber ball. As he seems to do, he was in his own world with some kind of World Cup game with specific rules and scenarios going on in his mind and being acted out.

I wasn’t ignoring the kids; they knew where I was and I would call to them. Kids relish their alone time, too. Really stopping time the best I could, however, I knew that I may have been missing an opportunity to engage more, even from afar. I decided to just be more aware. Watching him play, I got to be one of the World Cup spectators, perhaps a proud papa in the stands. I soaked in the little comments about the trials he was facing and the roar of the crowd as he overcame a bad bounce to make a great play. I smiled – a moment that I now had because I let myself be in it. If I expanded the area of my moment of timelessness, I could even hear some of the lyrics my daughter was mumbling to herself or what was on the TV. I know very few of her classmates and teachers might appreciate how often she watches the NHL Network, albeit if she is still reading a book. I’m glad I know that. Later, I can ask her about some of the recent trades and she will let me know all about them.

“Hey, that was a good one!” I called down to my son after he made a diving slow motion catch. He looked up, a bit surprised, and smiled. I watched quietly for another minute and he disappeared below me, entering the garage. The garage door closed and another minute later he came out the sliding door to the balcony to say HI to me. I put down my book and went inside with him. There would be time to finish the book later.

“But you grab a moment, or you let it pass.”
― Mitch Albom, The Time Keeper

photo credit: Tijs Zwinkels The fabric of time via photopin (license)

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Edward Palmisano

Edward Palmisano

Edward Palmisano is the father of two awesome children and humbly “like a dad” to others. His daughter has cyclic vomiting syndrome, which brings a deeper challenge and also reward to his fatherhood experience. Ed holds licenses in regular and special education administration as well as school psychology. He also serves on his local school board and tutors in the community. His faith inspires his belief that a father’s first responsibility is to guard his own house and to be the first example to his child’s moral upbringing.

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