In the midst of difficulty, you may sometimes wish for time to move faster. You’d like to get through the hard or dreary seasons quickly so you can get on to more pleasant times. But what might you miss in your rush to skip ahead?
There’s a fairy tale called “The Magic Thread” (or “Peter and the Magic Thread”) that I read a few weeks ago. In it, the boy Peter is given a ball that contains a magic thread. By pulling this thread, Peter can skip forward in time. A slight pull may cause him to jump ahead a few hours. A hard yank could cause him to jump weeks or months or more ahead. The only caveat is that once the string is pulled it can never go back. There are no do-overs.
Throughout the story, Peter pulls the thread a little here and a little there to get out of the difficult or dull times of life. First, it’s to get to the end of the school day, later it’s to jump ahead to the weekend. He uses it to shorten his military deployment and to hasten his wedding. It becomes a handy tool to get through trying seasons of life quickly—like when money is tight, or when he and his wife have too many kids and not enough house. But eventually, towards the end, he realizes how quickly his life has flown by. Worse yet, because he constantly skipped ahead, he now has few memories of those times he was in a hurry to bypass.
From the reader’s vantage point, it’s easy to see the impatience of Peter. In each situation, we know that pulling the string is not the best choice for him. And yet, how often do we wish we could do the same thing? We can’t wait till Friday, can’t wait till Spring, can’t for vacation, can’t wait till the kids are out of the house, can’t wait till… It seems there’s always something in the future that we’re in a hurry to get to.
Time seems to fly by fast enough on its own. And yet sometimes we wish we could make it move even faster. But in the desire to move faster, we may miss both the lessons and memories that each moment has to offer. And just like the string in the story, once the moment is past, there’s no going back.