Tick, Tock: Writers and Photographers Reflect on Time

11th-century pictograph in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Photo by scribbler's playhouse.

Last week, Australian photoblogger Lignum Draco hosted the popular Photo Challenge over at The Daily Post and offered a rich theme for exploration: time. Here’s a selection of powerful images inspired by the challenge, along with some of our favorite posts on the subject of temporality and the passing of time.

Browse the archives for past Photo Challenge topics, or look for the most recent one at the top of The Daily Post homepage. Challenges run Friday to Friday — you can still participate in this week’s challenge!

Putting Off Tomorrow

Sarah at Extra Dry Martini wrote a moving post about the connection between grief and procrastination, and how they both make us feel as if time alternately stands still and accelerates.

I don’t need anyone to tell me that all we have is this moment, this one, right now. I already know.

And yet. As I sit here, writing this to you, I am – at this very moment – procrastinating. I am putting off doing things that are important to me. Even after I resolved that I wouldn’t, I am still finding ways to stall. I am making excuses. Why?

The Māori cemetery of the Church of St. John at Omahu in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. Photo by Doublewhirler.

The Māori cemetery of the Church of St. John at Omahu in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand. Photo by Doublewhirler.


The Red Sands of Mars

Astronomer Shane Larson’s job requires him to ask questions about cosmic time, which stretches infinitely beyond our Earth-bound experience of days and months. In a recent post at Write Science, he talks about his desire to explore the vastness of space — which will remain unfulfilled, because he was born a few generations too early.

But when I think about Mars, when I imagine even just a few moments of being able to shuffle around in the light gravity, to turn over a stone scoured by a billion years of Martian weather, to let the red, red sands sift through my outstretched fingers, the longing for that experience is almost overwhelming.

Photo by Grateful Living.

A blogger holding the hand of her 94-year-old grandmother, who’s lost all sense of time due to Alzheimer’s. Photo by Grateful Living.


Time, Tree Planting, and Commuting with Birds: Hymn to Suburbia

From the trees in her neighborhood to the streets she passes on her morning commute, Katherine Price wrote a beautiful meditation on the different timezones we all occupy in our daily lives.

This year I have lived a full half century. My children have grown up and left. For the first time in my life I’m living entirely on my own. It’s bloody lovely, this freedom, but I do find myself staring into space. A lot.


Rooks can live up to twenty years and jackdaws up to fourteen. This year it struck me that I could have been sharing my commute with some of the same birdy individuals for the last decade and a half. That possibility lies tenderly on my heart, like a bruise.

A decaying leaf marks the passage of the seasons on Pender Island, British Columbia, Canada. Photo by Salal Studio.

A decaying leaf marks the passage of the seasons on Pender Island, British Columbia, Canada. Photo by Salal Studio.


In Praise of Nowstalgia: The Sadness in Happiness

Sometimes time folds onto itself and invites us to focus on one single instant. At Pioneer Perfume, Emily Grosvenor tries to do that as she observes her kids playing — only to realize how hard it is to enjoy the split second during which a memory is created out of a lived experience.

My boys crouched down together and snatched two tiny frogs out of the grass. My older son dropped a half-inch long slimy frog into my younger son’s soft palm, and in the crisp sun of an Oregon mountain summer, the world stopped for me.

I got that feeling again. It’s a feeling I can’t help but notice more and more in these hazy, long afternoons of summertime: Nowstalgia.

Nowstalgia is what I call that split second when I can sense that a memory is being created, and instead of being happy for the calamitous beauty of this moment, I’m already nostalgic for how much I’m going to miss it years from now. It’s a truer version of the term bittersweet, an idea far better for capturing how quickly a life passes and how intimately we feel the passing.

Looking for more? Check out more entries from the Time Photo Challenge, or browse our Nostalgia, History, or Memoir topic archives.

February 11, 2016Memoir, Nostalgia, Photography, ,