Tick Tock


I remember occasions in life when time seemed to move very slowly.  The days before Christmas as a child.  Pregnancy.   Labor.  Waiting for water to boil.  Sitting in committee meetings.  The abdominal part of fitness classes. 

Those were exceptions. 

The year I was 14, I had a swimming coach who shouted out the time on his stop watch as he paced on the pool deck during practice.   He ticked off the passing seconds as swimmers came toward the finish.  If he thought you were slacking, he picked up a deck chair and threw it at you in the water.  It was a form of negative motivation.  It pushed you to try harder to beat the clock. 

Back then, people who were the age that I am now were old.   They were on the down slope of life while I, at 14, was on the uphill climb.  I thought I was living the best years of my life.   I believed that those were the years I would remember.

Funny, I don’t remember a lot.  Years have fast-forwarded.  Children have grown.   People have passed through my life.  Places are now vague memories.  Wrinkles have formed.   And another year has gone by.

And another new year is here.

A friend and I were talking about what it might have been like if we’d had the wisdom we’ve gained in our lifetimes when we still had the bodies we had at 20.  There is some universal reason that does not happen.  Likely, it would be dangerous.

Of the two, I’d take wisdom.  It has been far more faithful.  Earned wisdom tells me to lovingly grip what remains.  It reminds me that time spills away, like milk, with or without help.  It warns me to stay calm about the passage of time.  It suggests I not fritter it away.   It nudges me to spend time with awareness and to appreciate time for the gift it is.     

The shift from one year into the next is more than a reason for celebration.  It is a prompt, just like that shout coming from the coach at the side of the pool, that the clock is ticking.  It is motivation.  It is an abrupt knock upside-the-head to bear in mind that opportunity still remains before the finish line. 

Opportunity to love, to appreciate, to play, to create, to trust, to thank, to discover, to learn, to dream, to grow, to remember, to cherish, to hope, to experience joy.   To make these the best years in memory.   To keep trekking the uphill climb. 

There is no one standing on the edge counting off the seconds anymore.

There’s just the tick tock of the new year.    

 May your time in this next trip around the sun be well-spent.

Happy New Year.

74 thoughts on “Tick Tock

  1. Your comments about time and experience remind me what I tell my students. “Youth is wasted on the young.” Some understand what I mean by that and others don’t have a clue…Nice blog..thanks for sharing. Rich

  2. There is poetry in your posts, your imagery. I have said it before, I’ll say it again: To read you, look at your photos is so soothing to me it’s palatable, I can feel it. Calm descends upon me, every single time. Quite extraordinary considering how scathing I can be, how excitable I am.

    I just love your likening the shift from one year to another as “a prompt”. It is, Bella, it is. A prompt. Like a pristine as yet empty sheet of paper. Full of promise. It’s why I write with pencil (the eraser never far)..

    Wishing you a Happy New Year too, not least – and don’t say I am not selfish – so that I can enjoy more of your balm to my soul.


  3. What a lovely post and reflection on time. Time is such an empty concept in many ways, as it speeds by while moving slowly. What a wonderful perspective on our “next trip around the sun.” Thanks Bella.


  4. Hard to find words to describe how meaningful and true this reflection is. You’ve hit the heart of the matter when it comes to using our time. We spend far too much energy time-traveling (regretting the past or worrying about the future).

    I would add one “personal opportunity” to my New Year’s wish list. That I could just once capture the eloquence and beauty in words and pictures as you do on a regular basis.

    Happy New Year!

  5. Whenever I read your posts, I find myself at a loss for words. And while many people may think that’s a good idea, it leads to dull comments. How many times can I just say “beautiful”?
    Nevertheless, thank you for the beautiful reflection, and the warm wishes.

    May your clock be like the Timex ads of my childhood — “takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin'”

    Happy New Year!

  6. “Of the two, I’d take wisdom. It has been far more faithful.”
    I second the motion.

    “Earned wisdom tells me to lovingly grip what remains.”
    I really enjoyed “lovingly grip” — what a great word picture!

    Happy New Year to YOU and YOURS

  7. Tick Tock: The cruelest sounds of all. But I remain defiant. And sarcastic. Father is 88 and often sighs ” I’m getting old.” My reply is always “Da, you done been old for the last 25 years.”

  8. Others have said how I always feel when I come here–calmed and soothed. I love my visits here and this was no exception. You have a way of explaining the universal. We all feel it but don’t always know how to talk about it.

    Seeing the New Year as a prompt– yes. I like that.

    Happy New Year and many blessings!

    • I am glad we have connected Michael Ann and I always appreciate you stopping in and making a comment. I look forward to sharing more conversation with you through your blog posts this coming year 🙂

  9. As always, exquisite imagery in words and photography both. Yours is a uniquely graceful and quietly insightful and gentle presence and voice and I appreciate every moment spent with you. Thank you for sharing your marvelous gifts with us, dear Bella, and may you have a year of satisfying and joyful adventures in 2012!

  10. I’m with you, I’ll take wisdom too. These are beautiful insights on the passing of time. Since we no longer have the tough swimming coach, it’s up to us to remember impermanence and the preciousness of this human life. Thank you for using the New Year as this special reminder for all of us.

  11. Earned wisdom. What a great phrase, and haven’t we paid the price for that. Perhaps it takes some time to realize we’re the only ones counting off the moments, thanks for the reminder to stop counting.

  12. This is right on the money! I agree with you, I’ll take wisdom. It’s our reward for all the trips around the sun thus far. I look forward to another year of reading your beautiful blog.
    Happy New Year!

  13. Ummm, what a great find, this blog. Thank you for sharing your talent with us all. I love the photographs and your words weave a wonderful fiber for the fabric of a delightful read. I will be back. Hapyy new year!!

  14. Beautifully written post. Just perfect. So wise. So understanding of what life has to offer. I once watched a show where Jaques Pepin and Julia Child were cooking. Jacques’ daughter, then a stunning teenager was there, and not really interested. Jacques was peeved and said that cooking was a basic need and learning to do it well was important to her development. Julia quietly said, (I’m paraphrasing) “She is beautiful Jacques, and for now, that is what matters. She will learn to be interesting later, because that is all that matters as we get older.” We don’t appreciate interesting until we know how hard it is to achieve.

  15. Happy New Year. These are words of wisdom, indeed. I only wish I knew back then how fast it would go. I wish I had been less tentative, less afraid, less concerned about what other people would think. I guess that’s what wisdom is.

    • I guess some of the woulda, coulda, and shoulda thoughts come from wisdom. The best of it though is it is never too late, in some fashion or another. I am glad for your visit 🙂

  16. Lovely post! Thank you for the timely reminder to pause and enjoy, while still moving forward and making the most of every day. So happy to have found your blog!

  17. I do remember how slowly time crept by as a child. The giant image of a clock captures that. And then the giant seconds clocks at swim practice urged us to beat 30”, then 20″.
    As I take down the Christmas decorations and tuck them away for a whole year untouched, I look forward to them coming out again next December sparkling and delighting as they always do. Each Christmas season is fleeting and lasting. Yes, may the time in between be well spent.

  18. I loved this post. It had such a warm, trusting, thoughtful, wise voice. It felt comforting and as soon as I get to the office tomorrow, I’m going to print it out and tuck it away with the rest of the words that make me smile when I need/want to. 🙂

  19. I wish the one day, i could look back with the same warmth and joy. You lived a beautiful, loving, generous and meaningful life surrounded by family and friends that treasures you and you treasuring them with all your heart. You are an inspiration. Happy New year ….

  20. It’s a difficult task to explain our perception of dwindling time, and the passage of our lives. I was going to say it’s probably impossible to explain, but I think you’ve done it here. You deliver wisdom in such a calm and reassuring voice. I always leave your blog reluctantly, but also feeling happier. Keep writing, Bella — please — and keep capturing those incredible images.

    Happy New Year!

  21. My mom forwarded your blog and specifically this post. I am getting ready to make a pretty big change in my life and it’s a big transition in many ways (kids moving on, change of career etc. etc.) . This post meant so much to me….actually it made me cry!!! Very beautiful! I went on to read many more of your posts….I loved it all!

    Thank you for so many beautiful thoughts.


  22. Thanks to Bronxboy55’s recommendation in response to your comment to his blog, you now have another enthusiastic follower who will be looking forward to your next insightful, wise and beautifully written entries.

  23. I too would choose wisdom. Your posts are always so insightful as you do have a beautiful mind. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughtful writing and experiences in this blog with us readers. May your New Year be a blessed one. 🙂

  24. What amazes me are the gaps in my memory. Very scattered memories of childhood. Some so crisp I coul reenact every word. Others so fuzzy it’s like the tv when cable goes out. Snow. I can’t believe how times speaks up as you get older and have more to do.

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