By Norma J. Kirkpatrick

Guest Columnist

We spend time, use time, lose time, run out of time, ask for time, set a time, share time and change time.

We will be doing that last one on the first Sunday in November, better known as “time change Sunday” in the South. We are doing well enough to remember to change all of our clocks one hour, as we “spring” forward in the spring and “fall” back in the fall.

Mankind has historically worked at ways to measure the elusive dimension we know as “time.”  A few of the creative inventions are hour glasses, swings of the pendulum, sun dials and water clocks. There are clocks with a spring that are wound with a key, tick loudly and chime the hour.  We have electric clocks that are set with a button and digital clocks with numbers that change soundlessly.

There are watches for the vest pocket, the wrist and as decorative jewelry. We mustn’t forget the large clocks like those on top of the local courthouse and old historic Big Ben in London. Increasingly, people just look at their cell phones for the time.

I lived in Phoenix, Ariz., – also known as The Valley of the Sun – for eight years. Only Arizona, along with Hawaii and the Territory of Puerto Rico, leave the clock alone. Arizona just sticks with the standard Mountain Time year round.  That also means that several months they are in the same time zone with some adjoining states; and then they aren’t.

It is so hot in most of Arizona, folks look forward to sunset, and it doesn’t matter if it is called Pacific Time, Mountain Time, Central Time, Eastern Time or Daylight Saving Time. They are definitely not trying to save daylight. A few hours in the sun and the leather car seats can blister your legs if you are wearing shorts or a short skirt. And if those leather seats have a metal logo, you can be branded for life. While I lived there, I draped a towel over my steering wheel each time I parked the car so it wouldn’t burn my hands when I got back in to drive.

We may manipulate the way we measure and use it, but no one ever owns time.  It moves on; sometimes feeling painfully slow and other times seems to dash by in the blink of an eye. No matter how we might feel, time sets its own consistent pace.  Like scooping water from the ocean into our cupped hands, it slips through and away, back into another place in the journey of existence.

Time is the way we measure life: where we have been, what has happened and what we anticipate ahead of us. We plan our future time, on the dare that we shall have it.  We know when it comes we must be ready or the opportunity will be lost for the planned vacation; the important meeting; the appointment with the doctor; or the big family event.

Like those ocean waves that come in with foam around our ankles and are sucked back out to leave our bare feet on the sand, the future turns into today, and ebbs away into yesterday; curling its way out into the past and is gone.

This is essence of life we are talking about. Time is a fleeting treasure with no guarantees but is full of opportunity and memories as well.  True, you don’t own time, but you get to use it.

What will you decide to do with it?  The choice is yours alone. Time and choice always hold hands and leave you with the results.

Kirkpatrick is a guest columnist for the Opelika Observer. She is a wordsmith who has contributed to teaching materials, magazines and newspapers. She also collaborates with authors on literary projects and writes an occasional poem. She can be reached at