Tick Tock

How landing a long-awaited dream job forced me to rethink—but not remake—my relationship with time.

July 2012

I’ve just gotten my first, salaried, “real” job. At 41, I come a bit late to this particular endeavor, having thus far escaped that path via lots of part-time work, freelancing, living cheap, and having other priorities: writing books, volunteering, raising kids, activism, and my dearly held desire for free, quiet, daydreamy time.

This new job is not a 9-to-5, clock-in-clock-out type of gig—thank the heavens, because I plan on dying before I get one of those. My life on this planet is fleeting, and, as they say, there is no wealth but time. What this job does require: For me to be at a certain place, at a certain time, and to teach a certain number of students a certain curriculum. That makes me nervous. It’s not laziness. I’m an annoying, conscientious overachiever. And it’s not that I fear I won’t be good at it. I love teaching and have been seriously seeking a community and a job like this for a good five years.

No, what scares me is time—or, rather, the way I seem to move through it. Which is, to say the least, not in an incremental, linear way. I’m usually not even aware of time, or that it is supposedly passing, tick by tock, second by second. That’s just not how it feels to me.