Let’s get all the excuses out of the way…
There is never enough time.
The time is just not right.
Time is not on my side.
Life is just a race against time.
I am always caught at a bad time.
It’s only a matter of time before something bad happens.
Time flies when you’re having fun.
Time is ticking away. (Great, now that song is swirling around in my head, thanks DC Talk!)
What is time but a constant reminder that we are on the losing end of it? Time in our real world lives is almost always viewed as a negative. Whether it is running out or dragging on, time can be a burden. But, in fictional writing, time, while yes, used as a pressure gauge for suspense and action, is also used in ways we take for granted in our real day-to-day lives.
Time is a descriptor, a cue to move on and a metaphor for life. Sneaky little writers always tossing in creative elements that force readers to think 😉 .
When in the World are We?
What would a period piece set in the uppity 1800’s or the naked and free 60’s be without time period descriptors? I’ll tell ya…we would have no idea what year the story was being told in. We’d be all over the history of time trying to nail down the era. And all that searching takes a reader away from becoming absorbed in the moment of the book.
What era is your marriage in? Can you describe it? Is it bland and inconclusive or distinguishingly marked? Think beyond the basics and go into the abstract. Go beyond the year 2016 or the month of August and the specific day. Go beyond what is seen by everybody to distinguish what specific relationship era you live in now. Describe this era of your marriage like a writer would describe the 1930’s or the 80’s. Notice the qualifying markers of your relationship’s era.
Nathaniel and I are living in an era of growth, time stamped 2013-present. Our time period of growth is led by desire. Desire to know more about who we are, desire to change negative behaviors, desire to blossom from the junk in our past and consistent desire for each other. We could also say we are in an era of intimacy, but a daily streak of sex for 988 days is less than a whole era, and more a residual yet distinguishing side effect of the hard work and growth our three year plus era has been.
What is your era? When did it start, why? Pinpoint qualifying markers for this time period.
If we are unable to look at our own lives and name the parts, growth will never occur.
Sink or Move on!
Time is also used as a cue to move on. When a fictional character knows she is about out of time she will either fight till the bitter end or turn around and go another direction. Rarely have I read about a character just lying down mid drama to surrender to the waves. Okay, Titanic, but come on while Rose fought for survival her would be husband let go and fell to the bottom of the ocean. Most main characters will fight or turn away not just lie down and die.
In movies it is always apparent that time is running out and the characters need to fight through or turn and go the other way. A ticking clock, ominous music, and the needs of other characters are but three of the techniques writers use to define time in a story.
What in real life provides that cue to move on for you?
For me, I rely heavily on God to be my cue as well as my husband and my mom, both opinions I value greatly. When I am set up against a difficult decision of any kind or I am staring down a fork in the road with equally pleasing choices I tend to fall into a vortex of indecision. God designed me this way so I would have no other choice but to fall on Him and follow His lead. When I am banging my head against an unmoving wall forcing it to open to my will I eventually remember to pray and give my insanity to God. In these moments of my indecision I know my time is up and I must go in a new direction. The direction I work diligently on moving toward is that of God’s.
When you feel pressed against time what do you do? Do you bang your head against a non-moving wall until you break it down or do you turn around and follow a new path, God’s path?
The Hourglass is Full.
“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of our Lives”. Okay technically a simile not a metaphor, but you get the picture. Time in literature and on T.V. and movies is always figurative and always pointing to something for some reason, often comparing two unlike things in order to get the reader/viewer to ponder over the deeper meaning embedded in the comparison. In the opening of Days of our Lives (which I watched through little girl eyes while my sister tuned in daily in the 80’s), the concept of time running out was part of the show’s premise. There is so little time in each day and so much drama that it is as if time is just slipping away without a way to hold on to it.
In real life we like to spout off our own time based metaphors, using them as the culprit to our thin and superficial lives.
“Time is cruel” is a metaphor. It is not cruel; time has no human like ability to be anything but itself, ticking away endlessly. The cruelness of time is symbolic of how we value time in our lives.
“There is never enough time”, though not a metaphor it is a commonly used phrase. We like to peg time as the bad guy, one who is always on our heels goading up to run faster and faster eventually causing us to pass our own lives.
What if instead of passing the blame of missing our own lives, onto an inanimate object that solely tells us the hour of the day, we take hold of our time together? What would that harnessed time look like? What would it look like in our lives to not be dictated by a clock? How would that freedom translate to your relationship with our spouse? What if instead of succumbing to the pressure of time, tasks to do, or plans to be accomplished by a certain age or date, we let go and hung out with each other in the moment? Could we be fully in the moment?
What if we stopped looking at the hourglass as the slippage of time and looked at it from a different angle? What if we could pause time midstream, between the past and future, and just be in the moment? What would that look like in your marriage?