It was bound to happen – my hourglass (well actually half-hour glass) smashed and thousands (maybe millions) of the finest black grains of sand spilt and scattered amongst the shards of glass on my desk. Boisterous three year old boys and hourglasses don’t mix (they don’t really go with anything breakable, even though they are very precious).
I heard the sound of shattering and came into the office to see the top half of the hourglass broken and its sand strewn, the bottom half still intact with about 7 minutes worth of sand in it.
I’d only turned it upside down approximately 7 minutes before and it didn’t take long for a three year old terror to do his damage. Previous to this I’d kept it high up on a shelf, out of harm’s way, but then I’d always forget to use it to measure out time and tasks and magical moments of meditation. For some reason I’d needed its simple quantification of seconds, minutes (hopefully) well spent.
Luckily Little Yang didn’t cut himself, so I went mad on him in that first instant, then felt bad, then felt sad – I will miss the sands of time until perhaps I buy another hourglass, or simply content myself with letting sand slip through my fingers at the beach, offering the same powerful reminder that nothing lasts forever.
The broken hour glass got me thinking, metaphorically (of course).
Life does slip through our fingers and at any given time, in any given situation, we can choose to see the glass as half full or half empty – this I know. It comes down to our attitude, or perspective.
In a recent post I spoke of the perspective that time offers us and of feeling as though I was exactly half-way through my life – I hope this breakage doesn’t signal something sinister!
Watching sand fall through an hourglass puts you in the ever-changing present, the only place to be, until time runs out. And then it’s as easy as turning the glass over and starting all over again. Well it can be.
The hourglass is symbol of renewal – we get to have our time again, simply by being prepared to turn things upside down – when the sands stops, one half of the glass is as full as it will ever be, the other is crammed with possibilities – a empty vessel waiting, inevitably, to be filled.
So what to make in the message of a broken hourglass?
For starters, the fact that one half remained intact got me thinking that we are all made of whole and broken parts. Yes, for all practical purposes, the hourglass is stuffed, but the bottom half still held the sand it had collected before the top half was smashed. It would still hold all this sand for as long as it remained upright, until it was tipped upside down and the grains were allowed to trickle-out through the jagged maw of the ruined top.
We can be broken and intact. We can put the pieces back together sometimes (although perhaps not the small shards of glass) and we can choose to focus on the parts of ourselves that are whole, useful, rather than seeing ourselves as totally broken-down.
In yin yang terms we can be both full and empty. We need that sense of emptiness for possibilities to fill. And we are more open to possibilities when we choose to feel full already.
Life happens at that balance point between past and future.
If we’ve been broken in the past (and most of us have), we do our best to put the pieces back together (never the same as before, and never perfectly, but always as they fit back together, all jagged and ragged with the cracks in between that allow the light to shine through).
We can also see the future as perfectly intact and full of potential waiting to be realised, in the fullness of time.
You know I have to end this post the only way I should – with THAT famous opening line of THAT long-running daytime soapie.
‘As sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of our Lives’.
Without worrying at all about measuring them, we can but make the most of them.
(Incidentally Days or DOOL or Days of our Drearies as we used to call it, started airing in 1965, three years before I was born, although the series made its debut in Australia the same year as I did. It’s still going strong, well actually its flagging in the ratings, but has aired more than 12,000 episodes – that’s a whole a lot of sand).