It Marches On

hourglassA riddle for you:

This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.


-Gollum, from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien


The answer, of course, is time. On a grand scale, one has to acknowledge that time ultimately catches up with us all. There is no cheat, no invisibility cloak that permanently shields us from the effects of time.

Cover of TriumphOn a daily basis, however, time and its effects are usually something to beat: The minutes you shave off of your commute when you floor the accelerator to make it through the intersection just as that amber traffic light switches to red. The mad dash you make from the Metro entrance to the subway platform because, 
though you're not an Olympic sprinter, you can totally descend two escalators in three minutes. That grace period at work that allows you to be late without being late. The GPS “estimated arrival time” you tend to view as an overestimation you will surely defeat.

Hurry up…hurry up…hurry up…hurry up began to ring in my ears like an obsession.
-Langston Hughes, The Big Sea: An Autobiography

Time is a record of our existence and a marker of events; but more than ever, it feels first and foremost like a commodity. The DC Time Bank operates on the latter concept. Members trade in units of time: You exchange an hour of your knowledge or talent — whether it’s teaching someone how to speak French, babysitting or helping someone with their website — for an hour of services that you need in turn. The possibilities are many.

For example, in exchange for someone else's expertise, current members are offering:
  • bike maintenance
  • help in setting up a backyard compost
  • juggling lessons
  • business plan reviews

DC Public Library has numerous books on conquering, relishing, or understanding time — from shortening your work week to getting a quick dinner on the table that doesn’t involve your cell phone and a takeout menu. Perhaps you’ll find time to retreat to one of the few places where no one (save children) will bother you, with one of these titles:

The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich by Timothy Ferriss
Living in More Than One World: How Peter Drucker's Wisdom Can Inspire and Transform Your Life by Bruce Rosenstein and Frances Hesselbein
Just in Time!: All-new 30-minute Meals, Plus Super-Fast 15-Minute Meals and Slow it Down 60-Minute Meals by Rachael Ray
The Best Simple Recipes: More than 200 Flavorful, Foolproof Recipes That Cook in 30 Minutes or Less by America's Test Kitchen
Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything by James Gleick

- Jamilla Coleman