- Ada, Oklahoma

April 24, 2013

Time is all we have

Bobby Winters Guest Columnist
The Ada News

Ada —

"This thing all things devours:

Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;

Gnaws iron, bites steel;

Grinds hard stones to meal;

Slays king, ruins town,

And beats high mountain down."

— J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, Riddles in the Dark


"Time rules over us without mercy. Not caring if we’re healthy or ill. Hungry or drunk. Russian, American, beings from Mars. It’s like a fire, it could either destroy us or it could keep us warm. That’s why every FedEx office has a clock, because we live or we die by the clock. We never turn our back on it and we never ever allow ourselves the sin of losing track of time."

— Castaway

Time.  It’s the only thing we have. You don’t believe me?  Let me explain.

I don’t care how much money you have, if you don’t have the time to spend it, then you might as well be broke. If, by way of contrast, you save your pennies, little by little over time you will have money.

The time turns into money.  Making money takes time; spending money takes time.  Time is money.

I heard that somewhere before.

Intelligence is time.  Regardless of how smart you are, if you don’t take the time to use your brain, then you might as well be a donkey.

Time is energy.  I’ve mentioned before that I’m moving out of my old office in Yates Hall one bag of books at a time.  I’m ever so close to being done and I’ve never broken a sweat because I’ve  saved my energy by spreading the task over time.

Time can turn a friend into a lover; a lover into a spouse; a twinkle into a baby; a baby into a woman; a woman into a friend.

Time can nurture gratitude into love and pain into hate.

An acorn becomes a sapling; a sapling a tree; a tree into dirt; and all is done through time.

So time is the only thing we have, but we don’t know how much. That is our misery; that is God’s mercy.  We like to think that if we knew how much time we had then we could plan.  We could arrange our lives exactly down to the last minute. We could optimize, maximize, sanitize.  In God’s mercy, He does not allow this to be.  We would go insane.  We would be frozen in place, mesmerized, staring at the clock like a deer stares at headlights as each second ticked away.

We don’t know how much we have, but very few believe they have enough.

However, time must be spent.

Jim Croce wished he could save it in a bottle, but he couldn’t.  Otis Redding wasted his by the dock of the bay.  Einstein found it was the longest distance between two places using the language of mathematics, and Tennessee Williams discovered that again in the language of metaphor.

We spend our time, and we talk about borrowed time but there’s no such thing.  It’s just time running out.  You can sell your hours, your days, your weeks, months, years, and your soul all at the same time, but you can only keep your time by giving your time to those around you, one day at a time.

Give an hour in love and keep for eternity.

Thanks for your attention and ... your time.

(Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, is Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Mathematics at Pittsburg State University. He blogs at and You may contact him at