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It's Our Turn: Never fear, time will tell

Time has always been an elusive quality. It was precious as a youngster — who didn't want more time to play ball in the summer or after school? — and it has become even more so through the years, to the point where it eventually becomes a perpetual lament.

Those youthful days where you seemingly packed a summer full of activities into each day unfortunately don't last. As we pack on more responsibilities, and work and family and friends and obligations pull us increasingly in more directions, the challenge is to carve out time for those things that sustain us, those things that give our lives meaning or pleasure.

If only there was time to do all of those things we want to do. It seems as if we're always running out of time. Either the problem lies squarely with us, or with the concept of time itself.

Maybe it's the latter. Have you ever been asked when something occurred and replied, "Oh, a couple of years ago," only to later learn that it was more like 10 years, or 15? At no time would you have fallen victim to that when you were in your 20s.

Sure enough, time really does fly.

This is nothing new, folks. One of the most memorable "Twilight Zone" episodes had Burgess Meredith playing a book-loving man who had no time to read. Then when he finally had the time and was on the verge of picking up the first of so many elusive books, his glasses were shattered on the steps of a library in a cruel twist of fate.

Yes, that's a dated reference, but it's also a common wish of those of us with a love of libraries. It's also one more example of how time isn't always on our side, if you can pardon the play on a Rolling Stones song, and another '60s reference.

This is all a precursor to what has over the years turned into one of the most dreaded days of the year. While most people fully embrace the Summer Solstice, which marks the first day of summer, a few of us see that day for what it really is: The beginning of the slide into darkness, when the days start getting shorter.

Then it is simply a matter of time, and winter is right around the corner.

Oh, it happens gradually at first. Thursday was officially the longest day, but we don't lose a minute until Sunday. Soon they start coming a minute at a time, and then in batches. In no time we will have lost seven hours of daylight, from nearly 16 hours to barely more than 8 ½. By that time, you're driving to work in the dark and often driving home in the same condition.

The Fourth of July for some serves as the halfway point of summer, when in actuality it is only two weeks in. Before you know it, high school football practice will be underway and we'll be searching for our jackets and ice scrapers, wondering if we remembered to drain the gas out of the snow blower.

Where does the time go?

Probably to Yankton. Or more like Rapid City, because rapidly is an apt description of how it marches on, whether we're doing anything of consequence or not.

Time does in fact march. It is quite the trickster, and can do nearly everything. It's free and easy, and it's sweet and lovely. It is high or big, good or hard, old or present. Time can be passed, pressed, crunched, nicked, served, healed, bought, borrowed, tested, wasted or killed.

But at the same time, time can't do it all. Isn't it hard to make up for lost time?

A few years ago — or was it 10? — a survey asked employees if they would rather get paid more or have more time off. Admittedly, that's not a fair question. Younger workers preferred a raise, but many older employees favored getting more time back.

In his later years, Louis Armstrong sang, "We Have All the Time in the World," but by the time those sunsets start closing in on us, a more accurate description — not to mention a slightly more current reference (it's about time) — might be Semisonic's "Closing Time."

Only time will tell.

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"It's Our Turn" is a weekly column that rotates among members of the Echo Press editorial staff.