The average time at a stoplight is a minute and a half to two minutes. I always seem to pull up to the traffic light precisely when the light turns red, so I get to experience all the gratitude a red light can give. Sometimes it seems forever before a light will change. If I am alone, I whisper in a harsh voice, “C’mon, c’mon…”
However, there are times when I am not alone. Whoever is lucky enough to be the Tonto to my Lone Ranger (a name that is ultimately contradictory to one of the first team-ups in cinematic history), then that person and I are currently caught up in conversation, more often than not about what an articulate president we have. Regardless, I have found that during these times of conversation, those elongated moments of the cursed red light are fleeting and barely noticeable.
Albert Einstein once said, “Time is relative; its only worth depends upon what we do as it is passing.” When I was younger, I always assumed this was some profound or mathematical aphorism that I could not grasp unless I had mastered calculus. It is obviously not. I love the simple truth of it. And it extends beyond the mere moments at a stoplight, as I have noticed it in the months and years that have passed.
For example, it seems like just the other day I was writing in this very column about how incredible it was to see my granddaughter’s foot on an ultrasound. Also, almost exactly a year ago, my wife and I were at the hospital feverishly waiting for my granddaughter to arrive. I remember the clean smell of those cool walls and light brown carpet and those uncomfortable chairs. Now, it feels as if a decade has passed, and my mind is bursting with amazing moments that have filled a year. First garbled words, first scary steps, first beautiful laugh, and so many more.
As well, where there were only images and anticipation, now there is a remarkable little person with her own personality. Somehow, no matter where I hide the remote, she finds it, changes the channel, then hands it back to me to fix. As a result, time has relatively flown by, but it is still filled with colorful, unforgettable moments.
And so, in my opinion, Einstein was correct in his philosophical little statement. In reflection, I find I should not worry about how fast time goes by, but the worth of how it is spent. It is not about speed, rather quality, or “worth” as he put it.
No wonder the Lone Ranger appreciated Tonto so much. Whenever they came upon a stoplight on the dusty trail, both sitting atop their perspective steeds, they had each other to pass the time. Hopefully they talked about something meaningful, like why a person would name a white horse “silver.”
Brian Theodore is a language arts teacher at Corbin High School and lives in Corbin with his wife, who is also a teacher at CHS. He can be contacted at Theteachersdesk.email@example.com.