Tick. I Am Living. Tock.

I started high school in the fall of … well, it doesn’t matter.   One minute my classmates and I are at the top of the food chain in 8th grade.   Next thing you know we are all at the bottom again being the pecked upon.   Well, so they say.  I don’t really remember being tormented so much by “upper classmen and/or women”.   But there is one thing I clearly remember from my freshman year.   I was warned about it,  I knew what was going to happen.  But when it did, it stopped that moment in time.   And I can not get it out of my head.  And I don’t want to.  I value it’s lesson.

Freshman religion class.   Yes, it came with a warning.  Being raised Catholic and attending Catholic schools for my entire childhood education took me through a lot of religion classes.  And though many times I’ve thought of this incident and did not link it to ‘religion’ per se I know that it very much was connected to religion/faith in it’s presentation.    “Mr. I” was the teacher.   A wonderful man.  Kind man.  Smart man.   Even though I had heard the tales of his “Freshman Speech” I did not believe it could  be “bad” or  “threatening”.    Not from him. He was, as I recall, a gentle man.     He started our class with “the” speech.  I do not remember how long it was, what he said before, or what he said after.   All I remember is him pointing to the clock on the wall.   Typical class room clock.  Black numbers on white background.   With a second hand.  Tick.  Tock.  Tick.   He told us to look at it.  I still remember turning my head and looking at the wall.  It was an outside wall.   The clock was above the windows.  Tick.   He said “every second that passes on that clock is a second closer to your death”.

Oh.   My.   God.


That’s true.  He’s right.  I panicked just a little at that moment.   I cannot stop the clock.


I still think back to that moment.  I have no recollection of the brilliance I am sure he followed that up with.   All I remember is that statement, and that it was sunny out.  And I have thought of that many times over the years.   I’m not going to do the math but surely there have been millions of seconds that have flown by since that pronouncement.  Millions of seconds.  There were times when I thought of that and thought of the wasted seconds.   The seconds spent doing nothing, when I should have been doing something.  The seconds spent being negative when I should have tried to be positive.   Seconds wasted on cussing when I should have been singing.   Seconds that I gave up for no good reason.   That I cannot get back.  Those seconds, gone.  Gone in to minutes, hours and years.


I thought of it again the other day.


I have wasted a few seconds I suppose.   But it sometimes takes a little extra time to get where we are suppose to be.  I don’t break my life down to the seconds.  But the process.  The moments.   I go through my day trying to live in the moment.   To cherish moments.   Some moments are spent getting to the next moment that is more important.   Which makes the moment I take to get there, just as valuable.   And though I recognize moments – I don’t always break my living down to that either.   Sometimes it’s a day by day kind of living.  And that’s good too.  It’s like a great bike ride.   Some of my best bike rides have not been the flat, pedal in the sunshine and wind at my back rides.   But like  my first 100 miler.   I climbed  hills that felt like mountains, and they  had to be climbed.  I wanted to do this.   I had to go forward to get back .   But once the climbs were sweated out and muscles strained to accomplish the climb, the ride down the other side was exhilarating and “seemed” more fun.   But in actuality the burn in my muscles, the strain in my legs, the powerful engine pounding in my chest-felt good.   And I remember that more than the thrill of the down hill.  It was “easy”.   The more difficult seconds I spent are the ones I remember, and even value more.    The process of getting there was certainly not a waste.  I had to spend those seconds suffering some what, to get the great feeling of the accomplishment.   The great feeling of living fully.  Living fully by using seconds to get to, to do, to recover, to get through.   Seconds spent.


The seconds I have spent getting to here are like seconds in my life account.   I have accumulated those seconds.   I have learned from them.  I remember them.   I spent them, and yet I own them.


I am not closer to my death.   I am just that much fuller of life.


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44 thoughts on “Tick. I Am Living. Tock.

  1. bikebrown says:

    If it’s worth having it’s worth working for.


  2. Jim McKeever says:

    Wonderful way to start my morning, reading that. Your awareness of the ‘wasted’ seconds shows how much you appreciate the ones better spent, Colleen. They’re all an investment in ourselves and in others, and the playoffs are immediate as well as whenever that clock stops ticking. You are making the most of every second, it seems to me. And your readers are better off for it.


    • You’re very kind Jim. Thank you for the wonderful comment. I wish I could even venture a guess on how many times I have contemplated what he said. The investment is a great way to look at it. Some investments pay off, some don’t, some take time to mature.


  3. mewhoami says:

    Love the lesson he taught and that it’s stuck with you all these years, and that you’re now sharing it here. It’s such an important lesson to live life to its fullest, because the clock is indeed ticking. We may not consider each second, but each second combines with the next to make up hours, days and years. So for that reason, each second should be counted as precious.


  4. Can’t think of a better lesson than to live life to the fullest. It’s a gift.


  5. Great attitude. We really can’t live our life obsessed about making every second count, although it would be nice if we could (make every second count, that is.)


  6. NotAPunkRocker says:

    What a great way to look at it, kind of ties into my rushing the year vs. not wanting to rush life necessarily. 🙂


  7. Angie says:

    How clearly that lesson has resonated through my life as well! Instant, lasting IMPACT!! I Googled some info. Here is the rough estimate not allowing for the leap year bonus day: That was roughly 37.25 years ago = 1.1755e+9. Now you will have to remember the math lessons to translate that into reality 🙂


  8. It was worth the seconds I spent reading this. Wonderful!


  9. markbialczak says:

    Now that’s a teacher. Seconds spent on a lesson. A lifetime spent living its message. Thanks for this instrospective post today, my friend, Colleen. You are the teacher this day.


  10. Kim says:

    Wow, you got a LOT more out of that class than I did!! 🙂 I must have been stunned from him throwing the eraser and yelling at us, or maybe I was busy counting money for my elevator pass.


    • HOW did I forget about the eraser throwing? AND his yelling? Which is funny, getting to know him after, and imagining him being a yeller. 🙂 Yeah….sorry about that elevator pass thing. Maybe I should pay you back. Hahahahahaha! 😉


  11. Robin says:

    Wonderful, CM! Thank you. You have reminded me of some of the important lessons I’ve learned in life, and I love the way you ended this. 🙂


  12. I just spent several minutes reading your wonderful post. I call that time well spent and enjoyed. Not wasted. 😀 😀
    Still, what the teacher said made a good point. It all depends how you want to look at it. 🙂


  13. cindy says:

    Hey, very glad I “wasted”a few seconds with some besties last night. Time is a precious gift to both give and receive. Nice one weenie.


  14. jmgoyder says:

    I love your philosophies!


  15. inmycorner says:

    wow – that is quite a thing for a teacher to say – I’m not sure whether he was a blessing or a curse! How can a life be measured or “ticked” by a clock? One person’s tic – may be another’s tock. I’m not sure if that is significant or not – I think I just don’t like the idea that a teacher’s comment early in life should be so “oppressive”? (Is that the word) I have always liked the poem, “The Dash” since it focuses on neither the beginning nor the end – simply what is in the middle. You got me thinking, this morning!


    • I do like “The Dash”.

      Funny, even though I was ‘shocked’ by his statement I didn’t feel oppressed when thinking about it. I’m sure if I could remember the rest of his message it would have included living a fulfilling life kind of message. I wish I could remember it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  16. reocochran says:

    Wow! A powerful message: “What will you do with your time ahead of you?” This is what I got from this teacher telling you this. I also liked your first 100 miler story, this was one where I could not imagine the grueling test on muscles on the uphill climb, but can imagine the feeling of soaring down the hill! smiles!


  17. Well, this particular teacher certainly made a lasting impression, didn’t he? I tend to go more with your conclusions rather than think in terms of anything wasted. I can go back and consider that I might have used my time better or made MUCH wiser choices along the way. It may be the optimist in me, but I think everything gets used and nothing is entirely wasted. 🙂


  18. niaaeryn says:

    Nice! I love the positive take you go with at the end, and the balance. Sometimes we just have days, no shame. Ah, but to live, what a great adventure. Still, you have me thinking again too. Thank you 🙂


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