Time

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No, it’s not Latin, at least not directly. It is Old Germanic and related to tide, much as it helps us, as we cannot actually define time without running around in circles biting our tails (Ouroboros or a frisky dog, depending how seriously you want to take the notion). We can devise tools, sometimes very precise ones, to measure it, but as to what it is, well, no one really knows for sure. Is it finite or infinite? Does it flow, jump, stay or renew itself? Is the future coming to you or are you moving towards the future? Is the past unchangeable? Can time be traveled other than in memory?

We know we try to manipulate the time continuum (is it a continuum all by itself or does space gather there as well?). St Augustine thought that we have all the tools we need for time: we simultaneously grasp the past in memory, the present by attention, and the future by expectation.

Remember that old Greek myth of Khronos (personification of time) eating his children and them remaining alive and unharmed (gods, therefore immortal, and bound by prophecy – which is therefore stronger than time?) in the vastness of their father’s reach. We seem to be in time, but are we time as well? Is time sequential or, like we can in memory, escape into possibility?

Time can also struggle along even if we seem to have lost a limb of it. An amnesiac still has a present and a future, someone with short memory loss will remember his childhood and can plan for the future, an infant seems to live in an eternal past-present, with nary a thought for the future.

So many questions, for something we take so much for granted and that seems such a simple concept.

A few things seem to be outside of time. An example would be the strong feelings humans can experience. We feel those, they relate to an extant object (person, country etc.), and yet they transcend time. It is as if that relationship makes and marks its own time, limited and yet wider than the usual continuum. When we feel strongly we can work, dream, eat, raise children and follow our pathway in our time, and yet a small part of us counts a different set of seconds, one that is not ours but belongs to that object and that connects us to that object when distance alone might not make it.

And should that clock falter, our very essence is at risk.

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Anniversary

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Yep, Latin again 🙂

Not as interesting, maybe, as other words have been, but anniversaries (at the turning of the years) are on my mind these days, and it seems appropriate I write this on the leap year justification day.

Once we get past Latin fractions in Roman numerals with English pronounciation (ouch!) anniversaries are about time, both perception and flow. It is about the past, and the memories associated with it.

I find anniversaries useful, convenient even. If we change, that change can come from outside (life happens, and it is rarely under our control) or inside. This type of change we can control up to a point, and it is here that we can act. And if we try to act (change is an action) then we change in response to the past, to memories, to time.

The way it happens for me is that I live my life in the present, with my assumptions and my judgements and my choices. I recognize the source of some of those, as do all of us, mostly in childhood but always in the past. Memory being selective it has already filtered out for you the routine and mundane and retained the needful to know, however obscure. But on anniversaries I have licence to actually remember how that selection has been made, and why. And remembering, as Christopher Robin implied, is not quite the re-telling of a story, and is not as vivid. Time has put a veil on the colours and one can, as I do, try to look beyond them to the full picture, with context, and from a different place on the time continuum. This where change can happen, when you look at a picture not only from your own perspective but from a time perspective. This detachment allows responsibility to shift, understanding to develop, acceptance to follow. One may find, as I do, that sometimes it was also my fault that a relationship ended. Other times it becomes clearer the action that started all the consequences one faces at present. I try (hard!) not to get into “what if” insofar as regret goes. Lessons for the future, yes. Beating myself over the past, no.

Time is said to mellow things out but what I find is that time clarifies things, and it is only by being in a different place that you accept them, therefore they do not have the power to hurt as much. If you have remained in the same place, that mellowing doesn’t actually happen. It is in the travelling on the continuum, it is in the change that detachment grows. And by detachment I mean distancing per se, in time and space. The re-telling of the story is allowed to become a remembering, and as such make space for other stories.

It is an interesting thing, that celebrating anniversaries implies the present you thinking about the past you to maintain the hopes for the future you. It is also interesting that anniversaries, when change can happen if you let it and sometimes if you will it, are actually celebrations of stability.

Whether joyful or sad, anniversaries fare better if there is a ritual, a protocol, pomp and ceremony if this is your style. The remembering has to happen and people love and live their life by the symbols they determine. So whether is is a present, or a toast, or a party, a declaration or a wink, it helps the past, always trailing in the wind of the future, to be present.

An opportunity for change…