Time Problem: How Do You Spend Your Time?

(photo credit: Wikipedia. Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory.)

I’m still reflecting on the death of Stephen Hawking yesterday.  Hawking was fascinated by the “time problem.” Aren’t we all? So many SOL posts are about how little time we have, how we need more time, if only there were more time….

He, in fact, was living on borrowed time.  Diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) at age 21, he was told he had only a couple of years to live but defied the doctor and the odds by living to age 76!!! With his disease at his heels all his life, Hawking was not one to waste a minute of the precious gift of time.

I am recommending an amazing poem, Time Problem by  Brenda Hillman, on the link provided.  It’s a doozy and reminds us all that uncertainty is a given of our existence. I’m curious to know what you think of it. (It helps to read it more than once.)



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barbara suter

I'm a retired teacher who enjoys writing and sharing in this; unique blogging community.

9 thoughts on “Time Problem: How Do You Spend Your Time?”

  1. The poem kind of upset me. (Is that the point?) “I would die for you but I don’t have 10 minutes.” Wow. And I sometimes feel that way- the balance of motherhood, the pressures of a classroom teacher, of being a person with my own needs and wants frequently pushed to the side…. huh. Much of the poem confused me. What were your thoughts on it?

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  2. Time does seem to be an issue for so many of us. I wonder if it is because we make it an issue when it really doesn’t have to be. I know that for me the more I feel pressured by time the more mistakes I make and the more frustrated I become. Thinking about not having enough time takes time away from actually doing and getting done.


  3. Some of my scattered time thoughts: The body is bound by time and space; the mind is not. What I do in the present here is regulated by time and space … but what I remember from my past or plan for my future is free from boundaries of both. So, I could die for you (future) but don’t have 10 minutes to help with math (present). Memories are eternal and go with you anywhere, loosed from time and space. As for Hillman’s poem, it leaps from one thing to another and when I finished reading, I asked myself if I wanted to spend time trying to understand it. 🙂 I searched and found this: https://voltagepoetry.com/2012/11/06/joy-katz-on-brenda-hillmans-time-problem/ Skimmed what Joy Katz had to say… and now I’ve decided I don’t have any time left to think about it any more.


  4. Wow. I think the poem is amazing. Parts of it are painful (“my girl was doing her gym clothes by herself;…I was grading papers…” really stings when you are a teacher mom, that’s for sure). But it is also true in the sense that it resonates with my feelings about how my life sometimes is, and sometimes hurts, and sometimes the way I wish it would/could be. It feels like a very honest poem in that sense. And oh, the turns of phrase!
    “The Lean
    Cuisine was burning
    like an ancient city: black at the edges,
    bubbly earth tones in the center.”

    or “…our weeping caused the dew. . .” or “just quartz intentions” or “pinnochio nose.”

    I also love the depth and complexity and unusual choices for allusions in the poem.In such contemporary poetry, I do not usually meet such variety.

    I do agree with Kathleen that the line “I would die for you but I don’t have ten minutes.” is upsetting. I read it several times to get the sense of the emphasis, and decided it meant “although I would die for you, I don’t have ten minutes available to help you with your math” which is less disturbing that “I ‘would’ die for you, but I don’t have the ten inconsequential ten minutes that it might take, so why bother,” which is arguably a more upsetting statement by far. For me, it did not ruin the poem, because I could feel the truth of it. I might not want to admit it to myself, and I would never admit it to my son or husband, but sometimes I do think “I don’t have time for time” when the never-ending needs of mom and wife tug a little too hard on my overburdened time.

    I loved it.


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