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  • Writer's picturetatum van dam

what time is it?

What time is it?

I constantly find myself clicking the “lock” button on my iPhone to check the time, even when I’m aware of what time it is. Sometimes, I check the time knowing that I don’t need to know it in that moment. Whether it’s waking up early for work, turning in a paper by midnight, or perhaps even meeting up with a friend, everything we do revolves around meeting a certain time or a deadline.

Take any movie -- Titanic, for example. What if Jack had escaped the chains five minutes earlier? The iconic ending of the movie would be totally different. Maybe it wouldn’t be iconic after all.

If we take things back to ancient Greek philosophy, time doesn’t even exist; it’s merely a human construct. This way of thinking comes from many, many years ago and no pun intended when I say this, but times have indeed changed. It seems as if every possible scenario I can think of in my head somehow seems to coincide with time. Paying taxes, school assignments, parking meters, the expiration date of pop tarts… the works.

Occasionally, it feels like time is passing by so s l o w l y. An hour-long discussion class can feel like a four-hour-long seminar, and, sometimes, a four-hour-long seminar can feel like only an hour went by.

There are times when I wish I could just freeze everything, and other times I wish time would fast forward.

One of the most blissful, beautiful moments of my life was when I was in Iceland. My friend and I were driving along the Icelandic equivalent to the PCH and decided to pull over for a moment. We got out of the car, being the only two people in sight, and sat on some boulders facing the ocean. The water was the bluest, purest, and freshest group of molecules I had ever laid eyes on.

The sound of the waves combined with the sound of the wind was music to my ears. It felt almost as if time had stopped in its entirety. I had no worries. I had the world. I can still picture the moment in my head; however, on the contrary, there are times when I want time to pass by as soon as possible. Those are the less peaceful, less blissful times where I, or someone I care about, is in pain, and I just want it to end. (Or it’s my seminar.)

I once met an interesting person from Ukraine. And he told me something that constantly runs through my mind. He said, “Sometimes, the best moments in life are the fleeting ones.” And he’s right - some of the purest moments are the little ones; the unplanned ones, the ones that we least expect to happen. The ones that simply just… happen.

It’s important to live in the now. While this sounds cliché, I take no shame in saying this because I truly do believe it. Being surrounded by so many eager intellectuals here at USC, I’ve observed that many people are too busy focusing on the future that they entirely miss the present. While planning ahead is an important thing to do, it is equally as important to live in the moment - because, in the blink of an eye, everything can change.

We, as humans, often don’t realize the importance or value of things until time is up.

Imagine if you had the power to stop time. At first, upon thinking about this, I thought of several things I would do: skydive, and somehow manage to stop mid-air and look at the beautiful aerial landscape below me. Go to a concert and observe concert goers in their happy place. Go to a bakery and steal all the Russian tea cakes. And while all these things sound appealing at first thought (especially the cookies), they will never happen. Because time doesn’t stop for anyone. And I think that maybe, just maybe - that’s the true beauty of it.

Time doesn’t stop for anyone. Turn that dream into a reality. Go to Vegas and lose a few hundred bucks at the casino. Buy the pair of shoes you stare at on the display every time you pass by the store. Wear the dress regardless of what others might think. Do something for the first, and maybe last time. Go skydiving over the Swiss Alps.

Move to a random country and recreate Julia Robert's character from Eat, Pray, Love. Tee-pee a house. Prank call a friend. Age doesn’t define anything. It’s just a number. Remember that sometimes, we want to curl up with a stuffed animal like we are six, and other times we just want to cry our eyes out like we are only a year old. Hug the stuffed animal, cry if you need to, and keep in mind that age is but a number.

Time doesn’t stop for anyone. Do the thing you kept telling yourself you were going to do, but never did. Learn how to play Sudoku. Learn a new language. Or even better, learn a new language, travel to a place where you can use the language, and play sudoku at said place. Pick up a sport and realize it’s what you were destined to do.

Take up ceramics, make yourself a pot, buy a bouquet of flowers, and put them in the pot. Get that haircut and be bold. Keep in mind that the only person you should aim to satisfy is yourself. Social hierarchy is dumb, expectations are dumb, and social standards are, well, dumb. Be yourself, and don’t care about what other people think. There is one person who truly matters and that is you.

Time doesn’t stop for anyone. Tell them you love them. Tell them how much they mean to you; you never know what a small message of gratitude can mean to someone else. Tell the adult figure in your life “thank you", because as we grow older, it’s something we tend to forget to do. Tell the person you are sorry, or on the contrary, tell the person you aren’t sorry.

Ask someone how their day is going. You won’t believe how many people don’t care to ask things like that. It’s the little things that make the largest difference. Tell him you think he’s cute and ask him to coffee. Tell whoever whatever needs to be told to them. Because you never know… one day there might be no one to tell.

There’s a point I’m trying to get across here, and it sounds simple, but deems to be the opposite -- just do it.

Because time doesn’t stop for anyone.

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Zach Fleisher
Zach Fleisher
Nov 27, 2019

I also think time is an extremely weird and foreign concept. How can something so widely and frequently used be simultaneously misunderstood and constructed? I have thought about this topic many times.

I still cannot wrap my head around how time differs throughout the universe. How can something we constructed apply to the physical and mental states of our existence? Regardless, I agree with you that it is a great idea to live life with the time doesn’t stop for anyone mentality. However, I think it is much easier said than done. I have found myself guilty of getting caught up in the future or become hesitant at USC, but I think that’s pretty standard.

Going forward, I am going…


Mason Robinson
Mason Robinson
Nov 27, 2019

Time is indeed the most expensive resource in the world. You work, money, happiness, and relationships all revolve around time. Just to take your eyes off the clock for a couple days really makes one feel more present comprehend how much you can do in a day. I think the best days are the ones that made you feel like you had the largest amount of "time," whether real or not.


Zach Davidson
Zach Davidson
Nov 24, 2019

Someone once told me “the most expensive resource in the world is time,” and this quote has stuck with me over the years. That person was right, which made me intrigued to read your blog post on the subject. Unlike anything else in the world, time is something that keeps moving forward and never stops (as you said!). This is quite an interesting construct — I often find myself upset with how “short” days feel, wondering where all the time went and why I couldn’t finish things I wanted to accomplish. Often it is because I waste time on “useless” things which take up the space for the things that matter. You are right; we must take the time we…

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