Released on July 23, 2019, this Reflection is about our constant companion, the fourth dimension, that which occurs between the birthing room and the funeral home. I hope that you enjoy.
My daughter is now twenty-one months old. She is already walking, speaking, and making her will known to me. It feels like just yesterday that she was barely able to do anything for herself. And now she is saying ‘poop’ and sitting on the potty and climbing all over the jungle gym in the park behind my parents’ home.
Where does the time go? It is evanescent, swept up every moment that passes. We can do our best to measure its passing, whether through a clock on the wall or on our phones. We build our lives around time. We work during the week and we relax on the weekends. We set meetings and dates and times.
And yet, for all of its ubiquity, time is a massive crock of shit. I mean, there is nothing but subjectivity to it. What is an hour to me feels much different to my daughter. I am not so far from my younger days to think that my experience of time is the same as a child’s. When I was a boy, it took forever for time to pass. A week felt like what a month does now. A month felt like a year. The wait until Christmas morning was eternity itself. I so wanted to ‘be big’ when I was a boy, like my older brother and my parents, but it felt like it would never happen.
And then, one day, without me even really recognizing that it was occurring, it did. I became a man, and time contracted. In my early adulthood, there was still a taint of childhood upon my experience, meaning it felt a bit slower, but that has completely evaporated. Time passes quite more quickly as we age.
At least, that is how it was for most of my adult life. I am not talking about the passage of time, but how I perceive it. Now, after a period of ruing my lot, things have changed. There is less compartmentalization. Life is life and I am experiencing it. I do not judge things for how long or short that they take any more. There is simply right now, and right now just stays the same. And my surroundings change.
My body is becoming older. Grey hairs, which were a rare thing indeed a couple of years ago, have become more prevalent. My knees are not quite what they used to be. I find I am more tired earlier in the evening. But aging has not made me - that sense of ‘I am’ - feel any different.
Look, I am in my mid-thirties. By all accounts, I am still a young man. Perhaps my opinion will change as I get older, but I am completely serene about the whole thing now. It helps that I have recognized time for what it is – just another illusion in this world of illusions.
The realization was this: I have it all. So do you. We all have it all. The only reason you might think differently is because you have forgotten and have yet to remember. You are letting the illusion of time fuck you proper. The past? Part of the illusion. The future? Part of the illusion. The only thing that we ever have is right now, and that is not just some New Age fancy with little practical application.
Tell me, have you ever watched a movie where, at about three quarters of the way through, you think, ‘damn, I wish it was the fifteenth minute on the reel again?’ If you have, well, I do not know what to say to you. But I wager than most of you have never felt that way.
So why do we do it about life? One of my Dad’s favourite sayings is, ‘youth is wasted on the young.’ Basically, wisdom is so valuable that young people should have it so that they can ‘enjoy’ their lives more. I love my old man, but I think he is completely wrong about this. The gathering of wisdom is one of the most fun parts of life. Wisdom is experience, and experience is what it is all about.
The thing is, when we think back on our younger years, we are having an experience of recollection in the present moment. We are not actually reliving our lives, but we are giving ourselves a bit of a facsimile of it through our memories. It’s rarely as good as it was when it happened, and we usually remember better than it actually was. At least, that is the way we see it when we are ungrateful for our present.
The cure for existential malaise is gratitude. The reason we get bent out of shape about time, whether it’s through thoughts of a past gone or a future not certain to come, is that we are damned ungrateful about the experience of life. We attach value judgments to certain activities – hard, boring, sad, wonderful, happy – and we fear death. We make ourselves miserable in the result.
Gratitude is recognizing the wonder in the present moment. We used to say grace before our meals, and this is one of those wonderful things that we have thrown out with the dogmatic dickhead religious bathwater. When we say grace, or pray, or offer our thanks just for the experience of being alive, we are telling ourselves the truth.
Gratitude is truth because this life is exactly what we all are looking for. It is what we all wanted in the ‘land before time.’ Life is a solution to a problem – heartbreaking loneliness and boredom. To think that it is shit, either because we are closer to the reaper or because we are sad for days gone by, is to miss the point entirely. Life is a dance and you were not made to simply sit on a chair and watch as your rival sweeps the girl off her feet.
Be grateful for the sad moments, for the happy moments, for the strange moments. Be grateful for drawing breath, for spending time with friends, for sitting in the dentist’s waiting area for an hour. Be grateful to be driving a car where you can get road rage and flip the fuck out. Be grateful for all of it, and do not despair the past or fear the future.
And then, like magic, watch as the story changes. It’s not about the past, it’s not about the future, it’s not about the clock on the wall. It’s about the here and now.
And the present, well, that is the best damned gift of all.