Grains of the Hourglass
September 15th, 2009
Crime novelist Marko Kilpi works as a policeman. His debut novel, Frozen Roses, was awarded The Clue of the Year crime fiction prize. Kilpi's second crime novel, Outbreak, was published this year.


By Marko Kilpi (Stilton author)

You know the feeling when on holiday, you realise that you should use every moment as effectively as possible. You feel like you should see and experience as much as possible, and squeeze everything out of a short visit to a new location. I constantly feel like this about life.

It is by no means all the same how I spend my time. I feel that the older I get, the more I should achieve. I want to utilise every moment to the maximum effect. Not that my frantic flapping about would earn me more material possessions, but simply because there is still so much that remains to be done.

The passing of time is frightening. I am not the only person to think this way: in China, for instance, clocks are not allowed in public places. Seeing them around would remind us of our eventual demise. When meeting dead people in my work, I often feel that the life of some deceased person has ended in fast forward mode. Without any previous knowledge of the deceased, I have to outline the main features of his or her life with a few bold strokes in my notebook. Sometimes I am left wondering how little of the page I actually use up.

With some clients leave me horrified by the blase way that their lives have been wasted. They have not achieved anything productive in their lives for years, and are unlikely to achieve anything much either. Why are they even alive?

One could ask who am I to judge other people’s way of life? How badly am I living my own life, at the end of the day, by rushing from place to place, from task to task, in such a frantic manner that sometimes my wrists ache, and there is no time to enjoy any of it. Why should our lives be so full that on the last day, there are not enough pages in the notebook to record it all?

I simply love life. I am greedy for it, with all my senses. I don’t want to waste a moment. Even though time seems limitless, looking back on it seems but a brief return trip. I understand that it is up to me to decide how much enjoyment and benefit that trip will give me, and how exotic I can make it appear.

I don’t know if it is right or wrong, but I would urge everyone else to be as greedy for life as I am. To live in such a way that not a single grain of sand from our hourglass is left unused, and that on the last day we would have no cause to complain about things left undone. That would be idleness in the extreme.