“As if you could kill time without injuring eternity.” Henry David Thoreau
I have done a great deal of killing time in my life.
I’m killing time now, working a temp job where they rarely keep me busy. So I sit and stare at the computer screen, bounce around the internet accessing the few sites that aren’t blocked, rearrange papers, write posts for my blog, straighten files, pace, go to the bathroom frequently, and count minutes until I can finally leave. I would rather have more work. Killing time is mind-numbing and tiring. But they are paying me to sit here and I need someone to pay me to do something, so I sit.
When I was a young teenager, I wanted to run away from home. The abuse was shattering me. But I made up my mind to finish high school. I realized even then that to run and never finish school would severely limit my possibilities. I believed in possibilities. So I killed time until I graduated. When I was 14, I discovered a new way to kill time. I discovered drugs. Discovered they were the perfect way to run away from home while still living there. They were hard to come by back then. Even pot. But I saved my lunch money each week and at every opportunity, I bought what I could. Whatever I could get my hands on; it really didn’t matter. I was killing time until I could leave home for good. Not just with my mind.
When I married the man I truly believed I would spend my life with, I thought I was going to start living at last. But when he told me he didn’t love me, didn’t want to know who I was, didn’t want to hear about my experiences, thoughts, dreams, needs, or anything that was going on inside of me, I started killing time again. Waiting until God would work an amazing miracle, a miracle that would result in my husband falling in love with me. I never doubted it would happen. Eventually. I never thought it would take years and years and years, so I did have concerns as time drug on. Holding on was difficult. But by then, I was a good time killer. I prayed and did the best I could, living with a man who rejected and disliked me. I waited fairly patiently right up until the day he left me for someone else. I killed 22 years waiting for a miracle that never came. Waiting for him to want me. To think I was worth something. I killed so much time, I was no longer young. Not yet terribly old, but getting very, very close. Not yet a senior, but definitely on the wrong side of middle-aged. Honestly, I was shocked when God didn’t come through. Shocked and destroyed and utterly alone.
I’ve killed time waiting for lesser events. To be old enough to drive. I got my driver’s license 3 days after my birthday, only waiting that long because they didn’t give the test every day at the county offices where I had to go to take the test. I waited to turn 21 so I could buy my own booze. I killed time waiting for a mate, back before I married. And I’m killing time now, waiting for someone special to come into my life. I’m afraid God isn’t going to come through for me in the relationship arena this time either. I’m afraid I’m going to be alone for the rest of my life. And I’ve pretty much been alone all of my life, so it’s hard at this stage to believe there is going to be a happy ending to my story. Hard to believe it’s worth killing more time over.
I am beginning to fear I have killed so much time in my life, I’m never actually going to live.
I’ve killed time while I was trying to build a career. Trying to climb the ladder. I’ve killed time working long, crazy hours, doing what was required and more, believing my diligence would be rewarded. But it wasn’t. When I became “too expensive” (they could hire someone younger for less money to do the same job) or tried to express an opinion or took an ethical stand or some new manager just didn’t like me, I was booted out the door.
I’ve killed time trying to lose weight, believing that would make me a “real” person. A person who was worth something. Because obviously, my fat self wasn’t worth a plugged nickel. And when dieting and exercising didn’t work, I found my good friend ED. ED came to my rescue. But even ED has let me down. And I’m killing time once more, trying to get back to my goal – being invisible – hoping I will be wanted and prized if there isn’t much more to me than bones. Bones don’t require anything. They aren’t much of a bother. Bones aren’t needy like people are needy.
I’ve killed time trying to save money and sell houses so I would finally be able to live in a relatively safe part of town. That involved working like a fanatical person because my husband, who thought I was ridiculous to want a better house in a safe area, didn’t want to work. He made me feel guilty about wanting that safety. That comfortable house. My nest has always been important to me. It never was to him. Which is one reason I find it laughable that he is now set for life, living in a 3 million dollar home in a very safe area, while I would be homeless if not for the ridiculous generosity of my brother. But I killed that time, saving, trying to find a way to make it happen, only to have the one home I truly loved yanked out from under me when I lost my job. I finally ran out of options. I killed so much time, I completely ran out.
I don’t know whether I’ve damaged eternity, killing all that time. But I’ve certainly damaged myself. Maybe eternity is paying me back by withholding from me everything that has ever mattered to me. Life has always been just a little out of reach. I’ve kept trying to grasp life, reaching for that carrot, believing the day would come when I would finally clasp it in my hand. But that day never materialized. Hasn’t yet. At this point, I’ve killed decades and decades of time. Forgive me if my hope and faith tank is empty.
Unfortunately, the only way I know to live is to kill time until something happens. Until I finally unearth an opportunity. Until something changes significantly. Until I finally meet someone. Finally reach a certain age. Finally achieve a goal. Finally get that promotion and / or raise. Finally find love. Finally have that house. That job. Live in that ideal location.
The problem is, I’m out of time. But I’m too cowardly to put a gun to my head or to jump off a building. Yet, I’m finding, in killing all the time I was given to spend, I have actually committed a type of suicide. It has just taken me a very long time to finally reach the end. In killing time, I’ve killed myself. Slowly. Painfully.
But I don’t think eternity cares. I don’t think I’ve even dented it. If anything, eternity has simply shrugged and turned away.
Yet here I sit, counting the seconds, still waiting. Killing more time.