A Story for Our Time; spaghetti.

Time is ruthless, it watches laughing as I sit unable to move

We didn’t mean to go to sea, and sometimes the sea looks like it is made of treacle or molasses. Things are often not at all what they seem. If the sea were made of molasses what would the fish be like? Much slower I suppose.

Life seems much slower at the moment, it feels a bit like I am watching myself living it. Before I was at sea I seemed to be superhuman, apparently I fitted so much into my life, but I had that awful feeling of never sitting still, of needing a rest. There didn’t ever seem to be enough hours in the day.

Now it is a different sort of time, the days rush past full of nothing. I can’t work out where the hours are going, it is as if I live with some sort of time eating monster, in my mind it looks just like the honey monster. Honey monster sits at my left shoulder with a huge cereal bowl full of time, the more I notice him the faster he eats the time. He has a strange look on his face, as if he were some sort of cereal box character.

I get up and do the washing up and make breakfast and suddenly it is lunchtime, how did washing up take so long? I look over at the honey monster, he has a wry grin on his face. After lunch I do the washing up again, and go outside, the sun seems to be setting over the treacle sea, I look round at honey monster, he is lifting the spoon to his mouth, and suddenly it is dark. Oh come on, it can’t be bedtime already. What on earth is going on?

I remember the time that somebody explained to me that time moves faster as you get older, I was probably in my early teens, I thought they were quite mad. They explained that as you live for longer, the amount of time that an hour or a day lasts for is increasingly proportionately smaller compared with how long you have lived for, pretty much forever. This makes it feel as if time is speeding up. After they had explained this to me suddenly time started to behave exactly as they had described. I felt annoyed by this, that person had corrupted my world view with their stupid time-consuming world view.

It bothers me that people can seemingly harmlessly tell you things that they think are interesting or informative, and those things change your life. I did get older since we went to sea, but not by enough to make the honey monster effect significantly worse.

However, it is also true that when I am doing something I don’t like, or that I wish would be over, or waiting for something exciting to happen, suddenly time grinds by. Honey monster is nowhere to be seen. He has been replaced by a far worse creation, a giant never-ending box of sugar puffs that constantly fills honey monster’s bowl faster than he can eat it, and as honey monster is absent, the time cereal is leaking out all over the floor, the time cereal is knee deep and is threatening to drown me.

Conversely time flies when you are having fun, it grows wings and just flies away without so much as a ‘by your leave’. It’s not even ironic, it’s just annoying.

So there appears to be some sort of anomaly going on here. I am at sea and I am not particularly enjoying myself, it is hard work, it is tiring, and I am lonely, and time is not behaving as it ought to. By rights time should be grinding by, sugar puffs should be falling from the sky and filling the honey monster’s bowl faster than you can say ‘Jack Robinson’. (My, that JR has a lot to answer for). And honey monster should be nowhere to be seen, but he is right here next to me eating so fast I can hardly even see his mouth, it’s all a blur.

Is this what they call a glitch in the space-time continuum? Surely with all this ‘free time’ on my hands I should be doing all the things I don’t normally have time for, especially as I am not actually doing any of the things I normally do have time for. But I am not. I am just doing the washing up and cussing a lot.

You must learn to love the tasks you hate. Bah. I don’t care how much washing up you make me do, I will not love it, no matter what. Bright yellow rubber gloves which remind me of rubber ducks, and the radio have made it slightly less depressing, but I will not love it. I refuse. In any case that is beside the point. Why is time moving so fast? Surely that would mean that I like being lost at sea, or even more ridiculous, that I like washing up! Conundrum number four hundred and thirty-nine thousand, six hundred and twenty three.

Perhaps I do like being lost at sea and I just don’t realise it yet? Perhaps I do like to wash up and don’t realise that yet either?


Ten things that are nice about washing up:

  1. It makes my hands warm.
  2. It means there are clean cups.
  3. There are bubbles.
  4. There are yellow rubber gloves which I can pretend are ducks.

Oh no hang on there are only four things. It is official, I don’t like washing up and zen or no zen, I don’t have to like it either.

But I do have to deal with time somehow, or maybe just make a deal with time. Either I just give in to the fact that time is being eaten faster than I can wash up, or I need to find a way of trapping it. I think that is what people have schedules and timetables for. To stick to timetables you must be ruthless, you must be able to call an end to a task whether you want to continue with it or not. You have to be able to start the next task without finishing the previous one, you must be comfortable with leaving tasks hanging all over the place to trip over like nasty old pieces of spaghetti that you threw at the ceiling to see if they were ready and because they were they just stuck there.

Sticky spaghetti tasks will dangle all around your life getting stuck in your hair and trailing in your cups of tea. That sounds more chaotic and problematic than finishing one task before moving on to the next one.

Perhaps the real problem is not how much time I have, but what I am actually trying to do with time. I have a lot of interests (none of which include washing up). Or alternatively what time is trying to do with me. Time is making me old, this is happening slowly, but noticeably. Or perhaps it is happening fast, it’s all a matter of perception. Life has become so distorted. If I compare myself to an ant for example, ants spend their lives building their homes, collecting food, and resting. Humans spend their lives building their homes, collecting food, resting and trying to fit ten million other things in.

I yearn for a simple life, except that I don’t. I think that I would be happy to just grow or gather food and live, but I am certain that I would also still want to pursue all the wonderful hobbies that there are. When time is limited you have to make choices, and I just can’t seem to do that. I am a whimsical being, I am taken by the flow of the moment, I am spontaneous with my interests and my time. I wonder if other people are like me? I think of other people out there in their oceans, and I wonder if they have as much difficulty as me with timetables, time and tasks. Do they even waste time thinking about it?

Sometimes my time is taken up while I sit wondering what to do next, a kind of inertia sets into my body, I cannot work out if I should do something that I should do or if I should do something that I want to do? What I should do and what I ought to do ought to be the same if there was any justice in the world, but they rarely are. In these moments time is ruthless, it watches laughing as I sit unable to move, in a state that many would call procrastination, but I prefer to call it inertia, as procrastination involves other factors. I know when I am procrastinating because time allows me to do all sorts of other ‘important’ things instead of doing the one thing I actually really need to do. Inertia is different it is an inability to start something, I sit almost managing to get up over and over again, and time slides through my fingers like water. I have an opposite kind of inertia when tidying, only this time it is an inability to stop (I never ever run out of things to tidy in my house, or my boat). I find my hands continuing to pick up things and rehome them even though I am telling myself that this is not what I want to do at all, it is also almost completely pointless, in the same way that washing up is; there is always more.

Life is like washing up. There is always more, until you die.


Duckies photo by Andrew Wulf on Unsplash
Bubbles photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

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