Friday, August 17, 2012

The Wisest Counselor

There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;        30
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.
- T.S. Eliot, "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock

"People assume that time is a strict progression from cause to effect. But actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey... stuff." - The Doctor, "Doctor Who" (Steven Moffat)

I've been thinking about time lately. Partly because of my recent fixation on certain BBC programs, and partly because after a more-humid-than-usual summer here in New England, I am urging away summer in antipication of fall. And despite my urging, we have another 5 weeks or so before than calendar claims a season change--whether or not the climate agrees will be another story.

And I decided to write about it, not because I have a definitie point to make, but because I need to write about something and I really wanted to use those quotes. So here we are.

We all know time is weird--we're aware that it drags impossibly once you're out of coffee at a staff meeting, and slips impossibly when you're putting off a goodbye. We know that the same seconds that tick on a clockface can thunderously punctuate or sail by unnoticed. But we run our lives by time as though it was a hard and fast rule. (Please don't get concerned--I really do know that DW is just a TV show, and I will continue to get up when my alarm clock tells me to. I'm just ruminating.)

Few of us can get through a day without using some version of, "I don't have time for this." We are impatient at delays, irritable in lines, psychotic in traffic. We twitch and convulse at the question of adding something to a full schedule; we are caught up in the lines that break a pie chart of 24 hours into so many wedges of sleep, email, food, car. Time can stress us out, especially when reminded of the aspects which are inescapably hard and fast: a friend was telling me about interpersonal issues at a family funeral this week, and I wondered how much of it could be boiled down to the fact that death reminds us there is only so much sand left in the hourglass, and we don't know when it will run out. Time is, sadly, not as wibbly-wobbly as The Doctor would have us believe. It is cold and shows no favoritism. There is no alternative but plodding forward, or being dragged.

We do or don't have time. We find it. Take it. Keep it. Make it. Pass it. Waste it. Kill it.
We bide our time. We occasionally get ourselves ahead of time, and even less occasionally are ahead of our own. As we age we find ourselves behind the times, and, of course, we eventually run out it.

It would seem counterproductive to go on too long about this--minutes have vanished since you started reading this--and it seems popular and convenient to end with a command to make the most of it: Carpe Diem, or YOLO for the in-crowd (though I prefer Jack Black's analysis). But I think that ends up stressing us out even more. Maybe just: Enjoy time. Who knows how much we have of it. Spend it wisely, and spend it well.

1 comment:

  1. I've been relistening to some C.S. Lewis (that man was BRILLIANT), in particular to "The Screwtape Letters" and "The Great Divorce." Both deal with concepts of time as seen by those outside of it. Hard to wrap our minds around, because they are so finite and tied to time.
    Also, it took me a minute (ha ha) to figure out what YOLO meant. Pardon me, however, for preferring the old dead Roman guy version. But I guess that would get autocorrected something fierce on an iPhone. For example:
    Allen: "do you think I should go look for more scrap today or call it quits?"
    Jenny: "go for it hon. crap dies!"
    Allen: "??"
    Jenny: "No, I meant crap diet!"
    Allen: "Eww."
    Jenny: " Ahhhh. YOLO."
    Allen: "oh, I see. LOL"