“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”
Since 1965— fifty-five years and counting— those words have introduced one of the remaining dramas on daytime television. All the other soap operas have changed their openings with more contemporary music and flashier photo galleries of their stars. Young and the Restless even includes the names of the actors like they do in Primetime.
But Days of our Lives has stayed loyal to their 1965 opening. All the audience has ever seen is the hourglass revolving and the sands drifting through. I often wonder how many viewers actually register the meaning of those words? Time doesn’t stop. Life is not permanent. We are not permanent.
Nothing is guaranteed. We may not think about it, but we know it. If we own it, we are left with a choice. Just like Johnny Cash in his audition scene from Walk the Line, when he sings the old gospel song, and the Producer asks for something else. Johnny bristles over the thought that the producer doesn’t think he believes in God. But the Producer comes back with this.
If you was hit by a truck, and you were lying out in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing one song, huh, one song people would remember before you’re dirt, one song that would let God know what you felt about your time here on earth, one song that would sum you up, you telling me that’s the song you’d sing?…Or would you sing something different? Something real, something you felt? Because I’m telling you right now that’s the kind of song people want to hear. That’s the kind of song that truly saves people. It ain’t got nothing to do with believing in God, Mr. Cash. It has to do with believing in yourself.
And Johnny sings Folsom Prison Blues— a sad song filled with hope, dreams, and the agony of living with the reality that because of the choices this person made he will never be able to participate in what other people are enjoying. His life is going to slip away just like the sands in the hourglass.
The wrestling I’ve done with my Revision over the last few weeks have left me wondering— Am I actually capable of telling a story Readers want to hear? And for a split pea second or two, I’ve thought of quitting.
But every time I did, I saw those sands through the hourglass, and remembered the man in Folsom who lost his chance to live a full life. And I was reminded of how I don’t want my life to end without hope because I didn’t act upon what I was driven from inside to do. So, there’s no way in hell I’m quitting.
Because it doesn’t matter if I publish or not. All that matters is that I increase the odds by expanding my toolbox, so I can figure out the best way for the story pieces to fit together. Those little victories are why I write. And whenever I write, every second in the hourglass counts.