I was pacing up the hallway, running about two minutes behind. Where those minutes had evaporated to, I didn’t know. I could have sworn I left with more than enough time not to make it to my next meeting late, but somewhere, on what I thought then was just my watch’s concept of time, a few minutes seemed to have vanished, without accountability, or record, or even existence.

I thought it was me. Things just seemed off because I was in that “off” mode of chasing an appointment that I couldn’t cross the finish line appropriately to meet. You see, I thought it was just my watch, or maybe my grasp on the fabric of what makes a minute, that had to be off at that moment. But it wasn’t just my watch’s hands that were lagging, distorting my world into lateness, and making things seem unfocused and frazzled—the hands that governed the universe were in fact, off-kilter in time.


Time, too late, so distracted

But I was too distracted by my tardiness at the moment to see beyond the passing of time within myself.

Running into a colleague once I reached our faculty offices, I asked, “Sorry, Curt. I’m trying to find Neal. Have you seen him? I think I’m running behind.”

“I just saw him a minute or two ago,” Curt said. “He’s here somewhere. He said he was looking for you.”

So up to Neal’s office I went, just a few more paces past Curt, but Neal’s door was closed—a usual indication of privacy being demanded, or sign the faculty had vacated.

Knowing I’m by no means perfect, all I could wonder if is I got my days mixed up. But didn’t Curt say Neal was looking for me?

“Curt,” I called out.

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“I can’t find him. I suppose I can stay for awhile and see if he shows up—“

“Oh my goodness, no. Go home immediately.”


Apparently, as I was off teaching my students in an unlocked and publically accessible room, something finally happened with time.

Deceptively unsafe behind unlocked doors

Happily exposed and feeling secure in my unlocked classroom, I had just come from teaching my students a lesson. We laughed and did a group activity, kept distracted by our education-seeking activities. And we thought we were learning it all here—but found out, as smart as we all thought we were, we knew nothing. In fact, we hadn’t even been warned about what happened just outside the doors while we were inside of them, no more than a door swing away from the inevitable.


That fabric of time that governed the universe—the one that seemed to be off kilter today-- had everything to do with the universe, and not me.

Our little safe, happy campus, where so many came to fill their minds with new learnings and engulf Nash while exploring Shakespeare, was exposed—ripped open, raw, bleeding—and they were evacuating us out of those usually unlocked doors.

So what did it feel like, knowing that a shooting had just taken place, and I hadn’t even known about it? Jarring. Jolting. Like a thunderbolt would feel if you could grab a hold of it to ride it like it was a rodeo cow. What it meant to me was that now, no place was safe. Really, at no point, are we ever safe—we are cushioning ourselves into the bed of routine and normalcy, thinking that because yesterday was like the day before, today will be like that, too.

But it just might not be

So this is one of the few reasons why I came to embrace life and those I love and realize, there is no forever working time clock that the universe itself can’t malfunction into eternity.

There is no place that is perfectly secure. There is no such thing as complete safety even amongst a community of academics and learners. And as much as I love to write, I don’t get to write that part of the script. None of us do.

So what I’ve come to see is it’s about cherishing what you really should prioritize—even if it takes you time to come around to being healed enough from your tragedy to grab at it. Then, embrace it wholeheartedly. And just stop watching your clock, it’ll give you one less thing to worry about.