Time is short by
(89 Stories)

Prompted By Time

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Crab Nebula, left from supernova explosion of 1054

My time began when I was born.  Of course it didn’t.  We are somewhere in a vast time-space continuum.  Time seems to change depending on what we do—slow when in pain, fast near a deadline–but it becomes truly relative near the speed of light, when it really does slow down.  Amazing to have figured that out. We humans have peered into the heavens towards what we think is the beginning of the universe, and deep into the history of our planet’s geology and life, through unimaginable eons of time.  Our predictions call for the earth to be swallowed by a dying sun, albeit impossibly far into the future when all human star dust is once again just star dust. It is a remarkable story.

We are adaptable, smart in many ways, and know that what should be done is also technically possible.  Is it enough? 

And yet in all this nearly infinite time, novae explode, asteroids fall, climates collapse and extinctions happen suddenly.  Our fossil fuel emissions have started to unleash cataclysmic changes now—not in some distant time when I am long gone.  The predictions of the last century that seemed far off are coming true, more rapidly than we thought.  It’s looking like the end of my miniscule aliquot of time could coincide with the end of human time. That is stunning.

It is still possible that humans will rally, soon, stop digging our own graves and survive a good while longer (at least until the asteroid or another non-self-inflicted catastrophe).  Much has begun; we are adaptable, smart in many ways, and know that what should be done is also technically possible.  Is it enough?  Will our children be able to carry on our stories?  Time is short. Let’s use what we have left well.

Profile photo of Khati Hendry Khati Hendry

Characterizations: moving, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    I love how you wrote about this prompt in such an urgent way, Khati. From the beginning of time to the potential destruction, thanks to our man-made use of fossil fuel and other ways to destroy the environment, our countdown to midnight is ever accelerating. You paint a frightening portrait, but urge us to wake up before it’s too late. Thank you for this.

  2. Yes Khati I guess we do think of time in relationship to our own lifetimes, but of course we’re just dots on the continuum!

    Not the scientist or scientific reader you are, I do remember reading The Beak of the Finch about Darwinism, and realizing that evolution is not something that happened long ago, it’s happening as I type this.

    And yes, CARPE DIEM!

  3. Marian says:

    Very profound, Khati, and really demonstrates the complexity of time, and how vast it is from the universe’s perspective–and how crucial it is from humanity’s. Love the Crab Nebula photo!

    • Khati Hendry says:

      Remarkable that we can date when the Crab Nebula appeared as a supernova, documented by Chinese astronomers. Sometimes these rare things do happen in our lifetimes. Many are wondering if we will see Betelgeuse go.

  4. Suzy says:

    Written like the scientist you are, Khati. I appreciate your perspective on time. Perfect last sentence: “Let’s use what we have left well.”

  5. Laurie Levy says:

    Thanks for universalizing this prompt to remind us of the bigger picture. We need to take steps many yesterdays ago to save our environment.

  6. Brief, comprehensive, and profound. Thanks, Khati. Your thoughts and feelings strike familiar tones for all of us, I’m guessing.

    • Khati Hendry says:

      Thanks. It’s kind of hard to articulate, but it just seems crazy to be here now. Just as we get so close to understanding so much about our universe, we blow it. Shades of parables of the garden of Eden and the tree of knowledge, or maybe Icarus. Funny how those old stories seem so prescient.

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