Six-Year-Old Boy on Dock at Oakland's Arrowhead Marsh


Time is infinite, ever flowing, on-ungoing.

The six-year-old running barefoot at dusk with his mommy wears a watch for the first time. He calls out the time constantly, in time with the innocent slap of his feet on the pavement. He has no concept of measuring time. Yet wearing his big brother’s big blue watch he calls out 6:23, 6:24, 6:25, 6:27, 6:28. What does it mean? What are minutes? What is the hour? It is the position of the sun, it’s the length of a TV show, it’s when school starts, it’s when tonight ends.

He doesn’t understand what is changing and suddenly neither do I. Nothing is changing. Only this plastic contraption strapped to his wrist is displaying digits in black on gray, with the switch of a horizontal or vertical line the number changes, and the colon blinks, and time moves on only it never has. I feel sad that he is wearing this watch. I hope he’ll take it off soon and forget he ever wore it. Children are innocent of time, but then one day we tell them they must begin to measure it, count it like dimes, hoard it in cans, freeze it into memories.

There is no time, but there is rhythm. Rhythm is a pocket, you can’t stop it. Fall into it, just intuit, you can do it. Hearts beating, tides receding, cycles feeding. Birth contractions are a cycle, they climb to ever higher peaks of pain, then they descend the other side of the mountain, and then nature does the brilliant thing every musician knows makes music better: It gives you a whole note rest. You get a break before the cycle renews. Every line takes you in a circle. Every measure cycles back to the downbeat. Syncopation delights because it resists the pull of rhythm before falling back into it.

Whenever possible, forget about time and find the rhythm instead.