Dead Air

C.S. Lewis once said, “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”

While this is technically true, why is it that sometimes sixty minutes feels like ten hours and sometimes it feels like ten minutes? Think about it, what feels longer, one hour of reading a great book or ten minutes in a doctor’s waiting room? Ten minutes waiting for a doctor, of course.

As I sat waiting for a doctor, that question floated around in my mind. Earlier in that day, I was nearly late for my doctor’s appointment because I was reading a fascinating book and I lost track of time. I thought that I had been reading for about 15-20 minutes, but really I had been reading for close to an hour. Time just flew by.

Later, as I sat in the waiting room, time seemed to stand still. I would frequently look at the clock and expect 30 minutes to have passed by, when really it had only been three minutes.

Why does some time race by and other time seem to crawl?

Years ago I had a job at a radio station. I often worked overnights and it was my responsibility to make sure from, 1:00-6:00am, that the national radio program played on our local station.

It may sound glamorous, but it really was just me all by myself, pressing a few buttons in a small room while trying not to fall asleep.

The job was all about timing. I had to know when the national show was going to commercial so I could turn down their volume and turn up the volume of the local commercials.

Sometime I would start the local commercials one or two seconds too soon. This wasn’t a huge problem except for the fact that once the local commercials ended, there would be one or two seconds of silence, or dead air, before the national program started back up again.

In radio, silence is the last thing you want. In fact, it is just the exact opposite of what your listeners want. People don’t tune into a station with the hopes of hearing nothing.

While I was all by myself at the radio station, those one or two seconds of dead air seemed to last a lifetime. Time appeared to stand still as I bit my nails, waiting for the national show to return. In all reality, a radio listener may not even know that I made a mistake. To them, the one second felt like one second. But to me, sitting in a cramped control booth, alone at 3:00am, that one second couldn’t have been longer.

I can’t explain why some things in life seem to take forever, while other things fly by.

But it is important to remember that we can only control what we can control. I wasn’t able to control the doctor. He had other patients he had to get to before me, and I was just going to have to wait. Along the same lines, I couldn’t control the national radio show. Regardless of how much I stressed, the show was going to come back on the air on its own time and I couldn’t force it back just because I needed it two seconds earlier.

Like C.S. Lewis said, each hour is going to come sixty minutes at a time, no matter who we are or what we do. We shouldn’t sweat the small stuff that we have no power over.

I’m guessing Mr. Lewis never had to wait in a doctor’s office or work for a radio station.