It wasn’t the first time I’ve been dismissed with what I imagine was a rush to clean out an inbox from yet another gimmick, cause, or 24 hour sale. To gain a sense of control, we savvy websters quickly press delete. It’s a matter of survival. Disregard is in vogue. The more emails we receive, the less we read and the more indignant, justified and hip we feel, cursing those dastardly emails that try to steal away our most precious commodity: time.
It makes me wonder. Why doesn’t anyone have time anymore? Where did time go? Did it retire a few years back and no one noticed? Did one day it suddenly quit, yelling I’m mad as hell and I can’t take it anymore? Or has time simply been sent to spam?
One of my favorite ladies in the whole wide world was a woman I met when I worked at the hospital. One day, I sat down and wrote her a letter. Not an email, a letter. Handwritten. I asked her how she was. I told her I was writing for no reason. I just wanted to tell her I was thinking of her. I had nothing new to tell her about my life. I simply wanted to sit with a pen and paper and dawdle with her for a while over a cup of tea, like we used to. This lovely lady didn’t write me back. Not because she didn’t make time for me, but because she couldn’t. She died a while back.
Still, I make time for her. Still, even if it’s only in the fragrant memories of her floating above my teacup, she makes time for me. And I know what she’d say. This calm old woman would tell me time didn’t go anywhere. We just don’t make it anymore, kinda like everything else that has gone out of style, like tying our shoes or sending a note card through the mail just to tell someone you’re thinking of them.
We don’t send cards anymore. Not even birthday ones. We look into a flashing screen, tap discordantly on a keyboard, and post Happy Birthday into a little white computer corner when a prompt appears. I’ve heard some folks count how many little white computer corner birthday wishes they received, and it makes me wonder. Did they get any real cards? Did they come home at the end of the day and find a card in the mail with handpicked wishes inside, the kind of card they might ever so carefully place on the top of their desk to last for days, months even; the kind of card that would move them to make time to chat with an old friend?
It’s easy to disregard an email like my once prospective friends did. With one finger click, we can delete and diminish its intent and send it to the spam folder in our brain, never realizing the potential we may be discarding. But if we want to get rid of a card or letter, we must throw it in the trash; a much more difficult act. We have to take off the lid, face the garbage pail head on and actually witness our friend’s thoughtfulness on top of old coffee grinds or day old circulars. Such thoughtlessness makes me shudder, and wonder. Is that what we did with time?