Life Is…and Isn’t…

by Stephanie Russo and Amy Littleson


…a clock. It is not true that life includes three hands that tick monotonously, neither does it embrace a mere twelve numbers. Nor does life rest on our walls and wrists.

But does it? Doesn’t life carry on until our “batteries” run out? Doesn’t life embrace the ten single-digit numbers of 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9? Furthermore, don’t these numbers combine into equations, formulas, logistics, and probabilities that affect our everyday life? And doesn’t life rest within every bit of the world that we touch? A clock is very much like our lives. A clock not only stands for our length of continuation, our level of intelligence, and our position of existence, but it is a blatant symbol for time.

Time is the drive behind life, causing us to be late for an important meeting or awkwardly early for an acquaintance’s party. As the author Stacey Charter once stated, “Life is all about timing… the unreachable becomes reachable, the unavailable become available, the unattainable… attainable. Have the patience, wait it out, it’s all about timing.”


…a stopwatch. It has flashing numbers; always moving forward and counting up. It has buttons that halt the steady climb of calculated moments, and allows them to be stopped. It calculates all the time you spend on each small moment.

It is a stopwatch. But in reality, life is not one of these three-inch machines that can so simply and easily do its job. No, in reality life is not as straightforward as thousands of numbers steadily increasing, inevitable and sure. This stopwatch is simple, reliable, and trustworthy; it just keeps tallying numbers. But life is not as visible. It doesn’t reveal when life’s moments, times, and experiences will stop.

With the small press of a button, the whole apparatus can stop or set itself back. Wouldn’t this be convenient? When you feel overwhelmed, tired, and your head is spinning with the rapid changing of the numbers of your life, wouldn’t it be convenient to just press a button? A button that would stop everything and give you a well deserved break from life? To act as observer instead of doer, to watch your life’s moments count back?

But no, unlike this fortunate stopwatch, your life keeps rushing forward, forever moving, bustling, and carrying on with unnecessary speed and movement. And when you make a mistake or have a bad day or do something wrong, you reach for that stop button, which could magically take you back to a blank screen and start over fresh. But in reality, all you have is a new day, with the history and knowledge of the day preceding it. You have no stop or reset button, but you do have millions of moments to take a break from life, or to repair a mistake you’ve made in the past.

Five, four, three, two, one. The stopwatch counts down ever so gradually, and you know exactly when your time will run out. But can you really tell the exact moment when your life hits zero? No, because it may be tomorrow or within the next month, or even years and years later when all of a sudden no more moments, or times, or experiences are counted anymore, and there is no longer that constant movement of life. That’s when you succumb to the overwhelming stillness and silence of life without breath, as the stopwatch keeps continues its steady climb of calculated moments.

Life is complicated and unreliable, and you never know when your numbers will stop counting. Life is not a stopwatch; make the most of what you have.

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