“What do the numbers mean?”, she said, looking at her wrist. My daughter and I had a discussion about time yesterday. It went something like this: “what does the 12 mean?” We talk about how each number means an hour, but also minutes, and sometimes seconds – but there’s the same number of seconds as there are minutes so don’t get caught up in that too much yet. And how if it’s the big hand it means one thing and if it’s the little hand it means another, but they both work together to mean something else. She’s five, standing in front of me, in pajamas, looking down at an elaborately bling’d Mickey Mouse watch. It’s the type of bling that only a $10 watch can pull off: stones, shiny parts, dangles and bangles, rainbows too, I think. Standing, wrist almost touching her face she’s looking so closely at the dial, she says “so if the little hand ever gets on the other hand (pause) um (longer pause) and, um (now a pause where you just know some stuff is getting worked out), (a few more ands and ums because what’s getting worked out is BIG, and then) when it says it’s two minutes that means that a minute is two.” She was telling me, not asking. She dropped that knowledge bomb with conviction, she didn’t say it as a question. And I’m not, as the writer, going to note emphasis added, because I don’t have to: the emphasis was there to begin with. I was recording her talk and, listening back on it now, she was pretty serious about it when it says it’s two minutes, that means that a minute IS TWO.
Sit down sometime with a young child, or better yet a theoretical physicist, and try and answer their questions about the concept and application of time. Both of them have the same unstructured approach to existential questions. If you talk with one you’re basically talking with the other. Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist at Caltech, says, in a 2010 article in WIRED, “The weird thing about the arrow of time is that it’s not to be found in the underlying laws of physics. It’s not there. So it’s a feature of the universe we see, but not a feature of the laws”.
Time. Apparently it’s not there, or here. So what is it? What does it mean? How do you measure it? Who made it? When does it start? Or my favorite, why is it here? Our talk about time started with a shared love of looking at watches and having one on our wrist, but it opened so much more into how we live our lives and how we understand what is going on around us. Well, maybe not for her. But she showed me what time does for me, and for us, and for you and me with Graham Combat.
Let’s put the discussion I had with my daughter about time into a discussion between you and me about safety principles and tactics. About living a martial life. Take that first question about time, what is it? and use it as an overlay for your martial life. What is your martial life? Is it a uniform? A badge and a gun? A concealed carry permit? Are you head of a unit or protective detail or in an assaulter? Or the one I love the most because it encompasses all of those duties-a mom? As we begin again (again, the New Year, as a function of an accepted notion of time) what is your martial life?
Who made it and when does it start? Is your martial life part of your being, or something you are being? My ability to live and function a certain way-martially-cannot be successful if it is not within the basic fabric of who I am. It cannot be a coat that I put on before going out. Martial life is not a costume, it is a custom. An aspect of your behavior. Integral to you.
Why is it here? I live my martial life because evil exists. I live it because it is incumbent upon me to save myself, first. Nobody is coming to save you. You were already here, you do it. Why is my martial life here? It is here because I, like many of you, have chosen to embrace it. To let it become a part of my matter, my essence to my core. It is here because I alone am the master of my destiny and will control, whether good or bad, the result. I do not control the wind but I will decide where I sail it. I can choose to make time – my martial existence – a part of me or I can choose to let it go. But I must choose. Both paths are here. They, like time, are both going to exist. Pick one.
Choose how to spend your time because remember what was said, looking at Mickey’s outstretched arms, “when it says it’s two minutes, that means that a minute is two.”