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Monday, October 11, 2010

Ancient Essay #1: Time is a Tool

This is an essay I wrote for English 111 in 2007. It was based  on my odd conceptions of Time itself and its passage in our lives. It's interesting that reading it years later satisfies the very point it's trying to make.

Time is a Tool
Austin Ballard

This last summer I chose to occupy my time with a lawn-mowing job. The job consisted largely of riding on a relatively slow-moving mower across wide ball and recreational fields, pausing my vegetating mind only to reach the other side and turn around to make another swipe.
The mower emitted a lot of noise while working, and there were a couple of ways to cope with it. I could blast music from my iPod louder than the mower to cover its sounds up, or I could drown the din out with my own thoughts. Only a couple of days did I choose the former, though it might have been wiser, for my sanity’s sake, to do it more often. Most of the time I just let my thoughts go wild. In many cases it was a good thing. I could just sit on my mower and ponder the great questions of life, such as time, love, or thought itself. After three months of mowing, my mind had had its share of corners it had dug itself into. I eventually came to complicate my life’s everyday thoughts quite nicely.
The thing about mowing lawns was the fact that I mowed the same properties, once a week, five days a week. I came to realize how extraordinarily odd it was to look back one, two, three weeks previous at the same property. Soon I began to lose track, and that fascinated me. Time itself, I realized, passes faster than I ever realized it to.
Imagine, for example, this essay. You have read three paragraphs so far. You may be able to look back in your memory to when you were just reading the title, or the first paragraph. At the time, you had no idea, perhaps, what the rest of the essay contained, but at this time you are finished with nearly half of it, and soon this entire paper will be nothing but a memory in your head.
It was these sort of past and future observations that I came to think about, and they caused me to look at the world (and my life) differently. I decided after awhile that there was barely any “present” at all, but rather the past quickly consuming the future with a little bit of time to react and control it. This concept was overwhelming to me more than once, especially while mowing. I thought I was going insane, that my life was passing too quickly. At this rate, I thought, I’d be an old man looking at my gargantuan past, with little future left, in no time.
Fortunately, I discovered as well that time could be useful. For example, the summer was hot most of the time, but every once in awhile a cold, brisk, rainy day would present itself. I much preferred to be hot than freezing cold, at least at the time, and these days were miserable, to say the least. But I used my perception of time to manipulate my mind. “It’ll all be a memory soon,” I told myself. And it was. And it is. Those rainy, cold days are over now and in fact at this moment I am quite comfortably warm. Perhaps when this essay is read I am not, or I am sick or in some other way inconvenienced, but those problems will pass as well.
Time indeed passes quickly, as is proved my writing this essay in the first place. My summer is a memory, and soon will my time at Brigham Young University, and everything else. It is important, I’ve realized to write in my journal and record these swiftly-passing moments so that I can learn from my fleeting past and prepare for the lunging future. And when an unpleasant day shows itself, it will pass soon enough, and hopefully not without a lesson learned.

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