time for 24

Over a decade after its first season aired, I’m finally getting around to watching 24.

If, like me, you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t seen this show, there are moments when the time will appear in digital format, with beeps accompanying the seconds as they tick by, closer and closer to catastrophe. This display is sometimes accompanied by a montage of all the simultaneously occurring events, all of which are also preventing Kiefer Sutherland from thwarting certain disaster.

There is a possibility – a small one, given that I only watch like five different shows a day – that I watch too much TV. I’d like to think that 24’s ticking, beeping clock is so characteristically ominous that it will linger, even for those who aren’t actively destroying their hard-earned educations with a flood of bad television shows. I suspect that the show itself is genetically engineered to trigger that beeping whenever something in a viewer’s life involves a countdown. Which is to say, that clock will haunt everything you do.

I suppose, then, that I shouldn’t have been surprised when I heard that beeping in my head as I tried to crest a small hill a few days ago. While caught in the vice grip of intense pain and a failing cardiovascular system, I wondered what I was supposed to be mentally counting down to [assassination of the president? Another nuclear meltdown?]. Then I realized there was no rushed crescendo of beeps. More like a slowing down towards the inevitable flat-lining of energy, availability of oxygen, and the will to go on. The inescapable consequence of over a month of inconsistent [“nonexistent” might be more accurate] riding.

It was 16C out, and gorgeous, but I limped home after a mere 2.5 hours on the bike, unacceptably exhausted. I heard that beep again, on the way home. This time, it was my Garmin. “Battery is low,” read the screen, as if stating the painfully obvious state of my legs and lungs. It died soon afterwards, and I was almost tempted to pull a Marcel Kittel: 

The ride and my addiction to 24 reinforced what is so easy to forget: that the problem with time is that it happens. It keeps happening, even when you’re trying to hit the pause button on training, an assassination, or bikini season. This means that there’s really nothing left to do except to do it; claw your way back to fitness, save the world, or get a set of amazing abs. The time will pass, either way.

And besides, if Kiefer Sutherland ever died/failed, there wouldn’t be eight seasons of the show…right?