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The Scenic Route

Time theory

Living at the edge of a time zone for most of my life has convinced me that Einstein was right. By the time I learned to tell time, and before I learned that E just might equal MC2, I’d formed my own rudimentary theory that time is indeed relative. I’d figured out that, following rules strictly, it takes negative 15 minutes to get to town; leave home at 6:00, arrive Sandpoint at 5:45. On the other hand—the big hand, perhaps—it takes an hour and 45 minutes to get home; leave Sandpoint at 6:00, arrive home 7:45.

In reality, it took, and still takes, 45 minutes to travel either direction—unless Grandpa was driving, which took an eternity. Riding with Grandpa I had time to count telephone poles between home and town, and white stripes on the highway. Riding with Grandpa led me to note the relationship between the speedometer, the dash clock and landmarks along the way. It was then that I began to frame my own theories of time.

I learned at age 14 that Albert had beat me to relativity. I might have been devastated had I been a genius, but I’m not. Instead, I was perversely pleased that someone much smarter than me had come up with sort of almost the same idea. I was especially taken with the idea of time dilation, that moving clocks—such as the one in Grandpa’s Nash—tick more slowly than stationary clocks. Time did indeed move more slowly inside of Grandpa’s Nash.

Over time, my theories of time were overshadowed by other concerns. I grew up. Sort of. Okay. I got larger. Time-associated things became more demanding. School, job, social opportunities and responsibilities competed for time—my time, in particular. Time grew less available and more precious.

This trend continued, as it does in many lives, toward a breaking point.

Came a time, though, when I came up with an adjunct theory, the theory of recaptured time. Maybe this is only a hypothesis —it’s hard to tell the difference, lacking the brain of Einstein or Hawking—but in multiple, admittedly random tests, it has consistently proven true.

I fell upon this theory not by abstract thought, but by pure accident, which, when you think about it, is probably responsible for the great majority of advancements in human knowledge. My accident was this: a couple of decades ago, faced with way too much to do and not enough time to do it, I lost my balance and dropped everything. Exhausted, I left the mess and went to bed. I woke the next morning to my life lying in disarray, but before I could panic, Something said, Remember the Sabbath.

I’d forgotten that day, the one Grandpa and the rest of the country took on Sundays, when buying bread or gasoline was nigh impossible between Saturday night and Monday morning. I wasn’t sure that, in our time, the Sabbath idea was relevant, but I was willing to try anything. So—now get this—I took an entire day off. Not just a morning on the mountain, mind you, or an afternoon jog up Gold Hill, but a whole blessed day; 24 hours. I took time for a leisurely breakfast, went for a long drive—there’s that moving clock thing again—napped in the sunshine, took a walk with a friend, ate my favorite foods, went to a movie, generally did whatever I pleased, and took time for 8 hours of sleep.

The next day, to my amazement, I found that I was caught up. I realized I had plenty of time to do what I had to do, even with some time left over.

The idea of Sabbath isn’t new. The original Ten Commandments mandates a weekly rest day—upon pain of death! This is a bit harsh, I think, but a modern translation might note that without a Sabbath, one might end up working themselves to death.

There’s something about personal generosity tied into the idea of Sabbath. The theory of tithing is that by acting out of abundance instead of lack, we increase our abundance. The theory of recaptured time is the same. By taking time for ourselves, we increase our time for other things.

You don’t have to subscribe to the theory, but if you consistently wake to your life lying in disarray around you, and it all has to do with a perceived lack of time, you might want to take a deep breath and jump into a personal Sabbath.

It will, I theorize, be good for you; and I further theorize that if members of our culture redevelop a Sabbath practice, a personal and full day of rest and recreation, our country and our world will find time to take care of themselves much better than they do right now.

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Author info

Sandy Compton Sandy Compton Sandy Compton is one of the original contributors to The River Journal, and owner and publisher at Blue Creek Press (www.bluecreekpress.com). His latest book is Side Trips From Cowboy: Addiction, Recovery and the Western American Myth

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