Have you ever seen the Latin phrase “Tempus fugit” inscribed on the face of a clock? It means “time flies.”
At this time of the rolling year (to steal a phrase from Dickens), we often think about time. We’ve just started a new year – 2024, can you believe it! Surely it was only yesterday that my wife and I were holding newborns. Two of our sons were born in December, very near to Christmas. So at this time of year (gotta stop using that phrase – very repetitive), we get all reflective and misty-eyed. You really don’t want to be around us when that happens. Very sad, really. Pathetic, actually. Makes you want to grab me by the collar, give me a good shake, and growl, “Get a grip, man!”
Well, I’ve got a grip. And it’s fixed firmly on tempus fugit. It was only days ago (wasn’t it?) that we anxiously awaited the birth of our firstborn (now 29 and 6’ 2”). He came – in his own sweet time – on December 18, over a week late. My wife was very determined that he be born before Christmas. She was particularly keen that he arrive in time for us to travel home to show off our new present to the family.
It was a Sunday, and he interrupted my sermon. I remember a lot of cheering as I jogged down the aisle and out the door to drive her to the hospital. As we drove by the church, people spilled out of the doors laughing and waving as though we were on parade (that’s about the last time I felt important).
And it was only a few minutes ago (wasn’t it?) that we feverishly awaited our lastborn’s arrival. It wasn’t a Sunday this time; it was a Friday – December 23, to be exact (4:55pm Eastern Standard Time, for those with a bent for precision).
My wife had been induced, and it had been a longer labour than either of us expected, though I think she was rather more interested than me in the completion of this task since I was only waiting to go grab a double-double. Well, the baby had other ideas. He was big – 11 pounds., 7.5 ounces. And by the time he was delivered, I was sweating and near panic, and my wife was near exhaustion. He wasn’t breathing at all well on arrival and the nurse leaned over my wife’s bed and pressed a big red button on the wall. Big, red buttons never signify anything good – have you ever noticed that? He was in some distress, so they helped him breath, got him cleaned up, and whisked him off to the nursery and into an incubator tout de suite. And that was 18 years ago.
And now, here we are. Tempus fugit all right! And the older we get, the faster it seems to fly. If you haven’t noticed this peculiar phenomenon – you will! You wake up one morning and swear you’re still 25 (be quiet, you who are that age or younger!), but suddenly you pull muscles just by standing up, have an inordinate interest in bran, and shop for Depends. Where’d the time go? It flew.
Funny. When we were young, time crawled: Christmas feels like it will never arrive, summer vacation stretches ahead like a prairie sky, and visits to Aunt Gertrude are endless torture. But then we get older … and tempus fugit.
It makes you think – about life, the universe, and everything (42!). Contemplating life and its meaning is a good thing, a worthwhile pursuit, and you don’t have to be Sartre, Kierkegaard, or Deadpool to engage in it. You may not think about such philosophical things much, but it’s worth doing before the sand in the ol’ hourglass runs out.
Tempus fugit! Now – where’d I put my teeth?