Barked at soldiers and bandsmen across the globe, the order to ‘mark time‘ keeps people moving without actually making progress. Its best use is to maintain theatre and momentum while elements of a parade come together. It’s most commonly seen metaphorically, as we keep busy in the present and leave our dreams and hopes to manifest themselves in the future.
The end of marking time is an anxious moment. A quick transition from steady state into something new. Swift movement across the parade ground and the real chance of getting it wrong and being noticed. Or perhaps a halt is called, for inspection and individual scrutiny. You’re suddenly on the hook.
Marking time is safe and it still looks good. It has purpose, but it’s really preparatory.
It’s not progress.