Time in a Bottle

As our family prepares for my son’s graduation from high school this week, I have been thinking a lot about the passage of time.

If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do
Is to save every day ‘til eternity passes away, just to spend them with you.

Of all the definitions of time I’ve read, this one I found the most intriguing: “the continuous passage of existence in which events pass from a state of potentiality in the future, through the present, to a state of finality in the past.”  Isn’t that lovely?  In this context, it’s no surprise that when life’s milestones occur we cannot resist the urge to reminisce (I remember the day you were born) while also projecting ahead (you’re gonna knock ’em dead in college) even as we dwell in the moment (I am so proud of you).  It’s an emotional time warp that can be tough to handle.

We also use the word “time” to express the duration of our lives, as in “during my life time,” or “before my time is up.”  Time sets the boundaries.  We are born and we will pass on. Potentiality will become finality, so time exhorts us to use well our numbered days.

. . . there never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do once you find them.
I’ve looked around enough to know
That you’re the one I want to go through time with.

Often when we think of time, we treat it like the enemy: we work against time. Time is running out. Time and tide wait for no man.  But the lyrics of Time in a Bottle suggest that, despite all evidence to the contrary, time need not be our adversary.

If I could make days last forever; if words could make wishes come true,
I’d save every day like a treasure and then, again, I would spend them with you.

Even as Jim Croce writes of time running out, he also reassures us that, as long as we look around and make our choices well, it does not matter.  If he could make days last forever, or if he could hoard hours like gold doubloons, then sure, perhaps he would do so, but his “again” would not change.  He would spend them all the same way the second time around.

John, you have to trust me on this: there will never seem to be enough time.  Here is my wish for you as you cross this threshold:  spend your days so that, even if you could save them in a treasure chest, you would spend them again exactly as you did the first time.  Follow your heart.  No regrets.

Time in a Bottle is one of the sweetest love songs ever written, but it is more than what we think.  Below you will find a link to a home movie of Jim Croce and what I assume are his wife and son as a toddler.  His recording of this song is its soundtrack, and the little boy is clearly the focus of attention.

There never seems to be enough time.  If I could save the days of your childhood, I would spend them again with you.  As I thumb through old photographs of both Jen and John this week, I long for a day at the beach in 2006 or a stroll through Boston in 2010.

Days not to change, but just to spend again.

But we none of us can save time in a bottle.  Words cannot make wishes come true.  John, as you move on to the next chapter of your life, unwrap each day as the gift it is.  Look around, pay attention, take action, and live your life so that in your later days your box of unanswered dreams will be empty . . . except for the cherished memories.

Go get ‘em, son.

Jim Croce Home Movie

3 thoughts on “Time in a Bottle

  1. Peggy Dill Kerbey

    Liked this a lot, David. Your son is lucky to have you. Good to read at my point in life, too. I will read it more than once!!



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