Last week, I wandered into a Pottery Barn store, a place I almost never go because charging the equivalent of a car's down payment for a giraffe-print pillow that would become ground zero for hairballs around here is absurd. I had eighteen minutes to kill and hundred degree temperatures to escape, so I strapped on all the pretentiousness I could muster and entered the foreign land of glossy, lime green "&" sign bookends and stark white vases that looked more like Charmin rolls than haute decor. At minute fifteen, I saw it.
A dwarf to its magnificent, Oz-like shelf partner, the gravity of its symbolism spoke to me in the way only someone obsessed with time can appreciate. Its simplicity and smooth lines, the purity of its contents, made me forget all about my disdain for trinkets. Its cold, air-conditioned glass brought relief to my heated palms. The promise of inspiration a worthy trade for a lunch out that day.
Treasure in hand, I navigated the potpourried landscape of diagonal beds and blue-haired, botoxed grannies to the register. A man desperately trying to recapture his Gap-like youth took one look and strapped on a visible why-don't-you-just-buy-a-toothpick-and-waste-my-time expression, quickly ebbed by the task at hand.
"Five minutes. That's all they get, huh?"
"No more," I said. Until that moment, the precise functionality of the piece hadn't occurred to me. Was it true? Was his snarky remark some kind of divine message? Had I really been shortchanging those around me in an effort to finish this book?
"Did you see the other one? Huge."
"How much time does that one give?"
"Not sure. An hour, maybe. Is this a gift?"
"Yes." A lie, so fleet from the tongue. Could I not own its importance? Had it been an attempt to diffuse my compulsiveness to have it, a subconscious safety net of potential re-gifting? Or was the hourglass everything I intended it to be? A gift of time to myself. Five minutes more to chase a dream.
I watched the Gap-offender painstakingly wrap the fragile contents in layer after layer of skin-colored tissue and bury it in a lined box worthy of something a hundred times its value. Gift receipt in place, a handled, textured bag shaken out to welcome the presentation, I left the man, the store of excess and an aggressive octogenarian debating the precise word to describe an orange shade of ick and became part of the oppressive heat once again.
I haven't timed a thing with it. Maybe the falling sand is just too precise. Too limiting. Gone is the deep-freeze sensation in hand, a sacrifice to the energy bill. It occupies a writing corner filled with a Victorian house, a slick blue angel on a rocking horse and enough spiritual awakening crystals to make me a D (something my CPs should collectively confess on Post Secret). For now, it's the perfect reminder of five minutes. Five for them, five for me, both part of the quest for balance I'm forever seeking.
How do you find balance?
How do you find balance?