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All This Crazy Gift Of Time

CJ Stone is an author, columnist and feature writer. He has written seven books, and columns and articles for many newspapers and magazines.


All This Crazy Gift of Time

Does the world seem good to you?

Does the music get to you?

Does the wisdom of your heart

Show you how to play your part?

All my blond and twilight dreams;

All those strangled future schemes;

All those glasses drained of wine,

All this crazy gift of time.

Happy birthday to you all

I hope you really have ball

And when you're walking up the road

I hope you finally explode!

— Kevin Ayres ALL THIS CRAZY GIFT OF TIME From Joy of a Toy November 1969.

How do you measure time?

It is precisely 6.32 am.

I'm sitting here, in front of my computer, wondering what to write. I have about an hour and a half before I have to be at work.

Sometimes time can seem too short.

Prisoners, on the other hand, talk of "doing time". For them time is a punishment, a burden. They talk about it as a "stretch" as if time was being dragged out longer than it should be, like a vast elastic band. Time can seem to go on forever.

Albert Einstein said that time was relative. He meant that time goes at different speeds depending on how fast you are travelling. The closer you get to the speed of light the slower it goes, which implies that, at the speed of light time would actually stop and that - theoretically - going faster than the speed of light would mean going backwards in time.

Except that, according to Einstein's theory, nothing can go faster than the speed of light.

Einstein's theory is very technical, involving all sorts of mathematical equations. I tried reading it once. I couldn't get past the first sentence. But Einstein was a great populist and sometimes offered simpler explanations of his theories than the ones found in his books. Here he is with a more colourful explanation of relativity:

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity."

He's right, of course. When you are enjoying yourself time goes tumbling by. But everyone remembers that last hour of school before the school holidays, the interminable tick, tick, tick of the clock upon the wall as it inches its way slowly forward, minute by minute, second by second, towards that final moment of freedom.

Then you have the school holidays and before you know it they're over and you're back at school again.


Sometimes there just isn't enough time. A modern person is always rushing around juggling a variety of commitments - work, play, lunch, dinner, love, friends, acquaintances, social life, work life, contacts, engagements - in a hectic round of schedules and arrangements, measuring out their lives in the pages of their pocket diary.

"I can give you fifteen minutes at 3.30 on the 31st, or ten minutes at 2.20 on the 21st."

"No, but I can give you ten minutes at 12.30 on the 13th or fifteen minutes at 5.15 on the 5th."

It's enough to put your brain in a spin.

And with all this hectic rushing around, what time is there left for yourself?

Time is like a scarce resource that has to be rationed out. We have everything we need in life except the time to enjoy it. In the past, on the other hand, there was more time. People had time for each other. Their resources were scanty and their food was rationed but there was plenty of time to go around.

So what has happened to time? Is it running out?

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Some people say that time is money. I don't like that idea. Does that mean we have to go out to work to get time now? That we can't have time unless we've earned it?

Sometimes we have to MAKE time, at other times we have to TAKE time. Making time is a creative act, a way of getting things done even when we don't have the time to do them. Taking time is a necessity in our busy lives. It's about allowing time for ourselves. People also talk about stealing time, as if time doesn't really belong to us.

One old hippy singer from back in the 60s, Kevin Ayres, wrote a song called "All This Crazy Gift Of Time."

I like that. Time as a gift. Time as something you can do something with.

I think this is the image of time that I would like to leave you with.

Time as the gift given by the universe for you to play with at your leisure.

Not time as money. Time as fun.


© 2008 Christopher James Stone


lxxy from Beneath, Between, Beyond on June 07, 2009:

I liked this CJ =) I've put my own (alien) spin on it, and if you ever find the time.... ;) I'm sure you'll like it.

trish1048 on August 17, 2008:

Hi CJ,

Time. For the past four years I was working two jobs. Total time per week including commuting, close to 75, 80 hours per week. I had off one weekday night, and Sunday. There was very little time left to enjoy. The little bit of free time I did have was spent, not as you would think, being productive, but more often than not, lying down and doing pretty much nothing. It was all I could do to take care of a few errands, laundry and washing dishes.

This came to an abrupt halt about three weeks ago, when my second job folded. Just like that, no warning. So now, I have what feels to me, an inordinate amount of time on my hands. By no means am I complaining. Other than the loss of discretionary income, this has been a Godsend to me. My weekends feel as though they last not just two days, but four. It's great! My granddaughter and daughter live with me, and the time I can now spend with my granddaughter has worth beyond measure. 'They' claim things happen for a reason. This situation has given me immediate benefits. Quality time spent with my family, more rest for this ole weary body, and the very pleasant thought that at 4 pm, my paying workday is over and I get to go home and be me.

Thanks for a wonderful hub,


Steve Andrews from Lisbon, Portugal on June 05, 2008:

Of course I remember, Chris, - you asked me about the cake! I put the link and mention about Kevin in for other readers. There's a track off Kevin's new album on his Myspace site and its very good, naturally! He played a very rare gig in Cardiff's Welsh Club last year, which sadly I had to miss being here.

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on June 05, 2008:

So what you're saying is that time only exists to keep the story interesting, is this right? I like that. I like the idea that it is a beautiful illusion. I know from my occasional dabblings with psychedelics (a long time ago now) that time is a great mystery, and that past and future can appear to merge into the present, but I never had the experience of standing outside of time as some people described it. In dreams maybe....

pgrundy on June 05, 2008:

I enjoyed your reflection on Time here. My partner believes himself to be an atheist, and yet he regularly curses God as being "a Black Bitch who hates me and destroys everything I touch." I pointed out to him that he is apparently a devotee of the Hindu Goddess Kali, whose name in Sanskrit literally means 'Time.' I'm personally a big fan of Kali myself, though I never refer to her the way he does (he has his prayers, I have mine). He professes to believe in nothing, I profess to believe in everything. He asks why? I ask why not! It's a yin/yang thing I guess. Some people would get annoyed but it works out for the two of us.

I personally think time is a beautiful illusion--beautiful in a narrative sense because of all the reasons you so eloquently point out--its elasticity, its mutablilty, its mystery. Seriously, I do believe we're all here for forever, we just need to forget that on a regular basis to keep ourselves entertained. Makes for great stories.

Thanks Chris!

Christopher James Stone (author) from Whitstable, UK on June 05, 2008:

Hi Steve, yes I've read the hub. I was there when you got given the cake, remember? Apparently Kevin's got a new album out, which I'm looking forward to hearing. I've tried contacting him, but he has no internet, apparently, but I've got a contact for Robert Wyatt now (there will be a hub about him eventually) who might well have Kevin's contact details. I didn't go to the 1970 Isle of Wight, but I was at the 1969 one - I think - with Bob Dylan. My memory is very hazy too.

Steve Andrews from Lisbon, Portugal on June 05, 2008:

Hi Chris! Another really great hub and it's good to see Kevin Ayers and Joy of a Toy here. He gets a mention in my hub about The Cake here:

And Eleanor/Chelsea Lee has introduced me to Leon Hendrix (Jimi's brother) now who asked me to post a comment at his Myspace site about seeing Jimi at the Isle of Wight all those years back. 1970 seems a long time ago and my memory of the festival isn't that good - I can't remember seeing The Doors at all! It is strange what you do and don't remember and how people and places and events can play a part in the now!

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