Time And Tides Wait For No Man

What could be better than a nearly deserted beach in winter? I have just returned from the barrier islands off Long Island’s south shore. Only the brave had bundled up to lean into the North Wind gusting in from the East. The temperature was in free-fall.


Blustering winter is not a good time for lolling in the sand, slathering on sun-block, or reading a bodice-buster while keeping an eye on grandchildren. Rather, the children cavorted while I huddled in my coat – a coat rated to be warm at 30 below. Silly me: I took L.L. Bean at their word.

DSCN1213The sun tried to break through the overcast sky. It was hard-going. The sun could have used a crowbar. The surf sounded without ceasing. Rather than a crash and a pause… a crash and a pause… the crashing was the rumble of an endless freight train.

What a treat to have all 32-miles of Fire Island National Seashore to ourselves! Three generations of our family were with us, and the inclement weather only heightened our spirit of adventure. For the grandchildren, playing soccer in the sand paled in comparison to following the receding surf to the sea. Down they ran – only to turn-tail on the in-bound wave’s return. The children were soaked, but their parents were out-of-town. What did we care. Parenting cares in the past, we grandparents gloried in following the flow of youthful abandon.

Watching the waves coming and going, I reflected on the saying “Time and tides wait for no man.” Unable to remember the source of the proverb, I did a bit of research. The quote is attributed to Chaucer. But… as is the case of almost any Internet search, I found more than I was looking for. Consider this quote by Charles Dickens:

The water of the fountain ran, the swift river ran, the day ran into evening, so much life in the city ran into death according to rule, time and tide waited for no man, the rats were sleeping close together in their dark holes again, the Fancy Ball was lighted up at supper, all things ran their course.”

If someone were to elaborate on Chaucer’s saying, no one could do it better than Dickens.

Keep your eye fixed on the end.

Keep your eye fixed on the end.

It is true that most of us don’t relish the time that we have. But not to worry. Entrepreneurs stand ready to solve the problem and make us face facts. I was amused to hear a couple of features on NPR‘s Morning Edition this past week. The piece that aired on Dec. 31st was titled “Nothing Focuses the Mind Like the Ultimate Deadline: Death.” The subject of the article was Tikker, a “happiness” wristwatch that uses your personal data and a federal government algorithm to count down your remaining days. See http://mytikker.com.

The following day, Morning Edition ran “Alarm Clock Sets Off a Real Wakeup Call.” Designed to sit bedside, the clock aims to keep you focused on the present. Like Tikker, the clock digitally displays your remaining days. The company vows that the clock will “jumpstart your ambition, and reconnect [you] with powerful motivating forces such as financial instability, social insecurity and fear of death.” See www.kickstarter.com/projects/fig/alarmclock.

As novelty gifts, there is nothing wrong with these items, but shouldn’t we be looking larger rather than smaller? Instead of keeping an obsessive eye on the hourglass and watching the grains of sand slip away, shouldn’t we celebrate today and keep in touch with the passing the seasons? The seasons turn, but not in micro-units.

For me, the New Year starts not with January first; rather, the New Year starts on December 21st and the Equinox. Praise Be! The tide has turned and slowly but surely the hours of daylight will lengthen. Light, glorious light, the giver of all living things is on its way to renewal.

One person who listened to the watch/clock stories on Morning Edition, quoted Cicero in the comment section: “Death plucks my ear and says, ‘Live, for I am coming.'” After sharing the quote, the listener added, “Take a walk in the woods; ditch the watch.”

I couldn’t agree more.     The ice we skate on is thin.     Best we treasure each day and  look to nature for lessons.     If luck is with us, the days will lengthen.

2014 Jan. 6 L.I 009

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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4 Responses to Time And Tides Wait For No Man

  1. Carol Moran says:

    No I do not want to hear the seconds or minutes ticking== I would rather get up a go at the time I have–to use and enjoy. We are all mortal–but what we do with the life we have is important, if not only to us but to our generations to come. Bless you–and keep going!!!

    • timeout2 says:

      Ah, yes… “the generations to come.” I’m happy that Ihave children. On days that I don’t feel brave, I rise to be brave hoping to set a good example.

  2. Jennie says:

    Loved this time and nature reflection Doris – you have a real gift for communicating in both a serious and amusing way. And fab pix! Want to be there too…

    • timeout2 says:

      Dear Jennie, Thank you for reading. How I miss Word for Word. I miss the creative energy of the group process, the most excellent tutors, and the companionship of other writers. How is your writing going? Send me something to read/celebrate.

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