ticking clock

Tick tock says the clock, tick tock. Whatever you have to do, do quick!

I’m not sure I got the lyrics of that nursery rhyme correctly but I hope it still conveys the intended meaning.

Many of us wear wristwatches or have table/wall clocks in our homes, offices, places of worship and wherever else we choose to place them, wrist watches and clocks of different shapes and sizes, colors and costs too, with the second hand just merrily ticking away – unnoticed for the most part – as we perfunctorily glance at them to check the time, before continuing whatever endeavor we were on in the first place.

Have you ever pondered about the significance of that ticking second hand? Does it hold any meaning for you? Has it ever influenced how you spend your time and the things you spend it on?

To most of us, one second is just too insignificant in our normal day to day measurements of time and we routinely abuse the use of the word ‘second’ due to the almost negligible value we place on it. Take for example our normal “I’ll be with you in a second” which then turns out in reality to be much longer than expected or the traditional “give me a second” which usually precedes someone taking a much bigger chunk of your time than you bargained for. The second as popularly viewed, is just too brief a measure of time for us to actually reckon with or even take serious.

For a select category of people however, seconds or even fractions of them, are the difference between success and failure, the boundary between outstanding and ordinary and maybe in some particular situations, what demarcates life from death.

Usain Bolt is the current king of the sprints with world records in both the hundred and two hundred meters. He and a lot of other athletes will tell you that in athletics in general and the sprints in particular, a second is a lifetime. What else do you expect from the man of lightning who beat Justin Gatlin to second place at the last IAAF World Championship Finals with the margin of a whisker? To help us keep the importance of even the hundredth of a second in perspective here, it is important to note that both men finished a hundred meters well under ten seconds, probably less than it took you to finish this sentence, a hundred meters!

Motorsports, especially Formula One is another place where seconds are of huge significance. Watch the time trials ahead of races and see how places on the starting grid are swapped and determined by margins as slight as a hundredth of a second. Louis Hamilton will testify to the distance a ‘slow’ F1 car can cover in the blink of an eye, which is sometimes the difference between finishing on the podium or off it.

A second on the battle field can mean that someone is fatally shot or just wounded; a second can produce a noiseless kill for a sniper or a huge miss which alerts the enemy to his presence. Literarily in these situations, a second is enough time and more to determine the outcome – whether life or death. To the aged, the condemned or the terminally diseased, each tick of the second hand brings them closer to the grave and each tock of the clock is a reminder that time is fast running out. Each second counts and such people will never take any for granted.

It is easy for most of us to go through life without giving conscious thought to the importance of the second – young people especially – living life with the erroneous belief that there’s still ‘time’. We take unnecessary risks and nonchalantly set future dates for appointments and other engagements, procrastinating without end, erroneously secure in our vision of ‘everlasting’ youth. How different would our views or actions be if we knew this or the next second to be our very last?

Many of us go through every day, just passing time without noting that seconds accumulate into minutes, hours, days, months, years and ultimately, a lifetime. Only the very aware realize that the second is the very foundation upon which the concept of time and life itself is based and therefore waste little or no time, on activities which do not directly or indirectly benefit or edify their existence and productivity in any way.

Today we need to realize that life is not an infinite stretch but a phase, and that the success of our journey through it is based on the utilization of time which is an accumulation of that much overlooked, but fundamental building block – the second.

Tick tock says the clock, tick tock. Whatever you have to do, do quick!




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