Time is a tyrannical master. I know this because, as a musician, I’ve spent many hours practicing with a metronome, a device whose only purpose is to keep time perfectly — annoyingly so.
But in a life sense, time is a much worse master than in a musical sense. I’ve started to become keenly aware of time lately.
And no, not in the manner of being precise about it — ask any of my friends and they’ll tell you that I have, at best, a malleable relationship with time.
But, as I write this, the clock is about to turn over to Feb. 1, and the only thing I can think is “where the heck did January go?” Time, as Steve Miller once said, “just keeps slippin’ into the future.”
I picture myself as a teacher, and, I still imagine myself to be a young punk who’s going to light the world.
Somehow, my mind’s eye loses track of the fact that I’m 21 years into my career and none of the rest of that belongs in a future tense, if it was ever true at all.
And then I remember that I have a daughter headed to college in about 18 months, and my youngest is suddenly tall enough to walk into my elbow (much to his pain).
And the one thing I’m running out of most is time, no matter how much I try to cram into each day.
I write this, not at all as a lament, but to perhaps share a little learning with all those brilliant young minds plotting their futures after their final semester of school. You have, essentially, three resources with which to face the world — talent, treasure and time.
Talent you can manipulate — you can work harder than the people around you, or you can narrow your focus to fit a perfect niche, or you work with the right mentors to bring your talent to bear on the world.
Treasure is a bit trickier, but, again, it is a manipulable commodity — pick the right career or walk precisely in the footsteps of others on the path or just be super-smart about your money, and you can find your way to having just about everything you need.
But time will keep on ticking, and there’s not a thing you can do about it. So don’t waste any of it!
If you’re giving away an enormous amount of time in pursuit of one of the other resources, find a different way! If you’re imagining that your brilliant idea can wait a few days to see a drawing board, imagine again!
And, most of all, be wise about who you give your time to. Be bold, be audacious, be “out of the box,” but be urgent! In case you haven’t noticed, the world me and my contemporaries foisted on you isn’t in the greatest shape, so don’t make the mistake of thinking it will get fixed another day.
Put your abundant energies into focused use creating your perfect life, and do it sooner rather than later.
Because the metronome keeps ticking, and if you’re too casual about it, you’ll miss your chance to light up the world.
Michael Alcorn is a music teacher and fitness instructor who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. He graduated from Alameda High School and the University of Colorado-Boulder.