Obviously I’m not the first person to note this, but I hear myself say it all the time: Time is an incredibly frustrating thing.
This year, due to a series of enrollment errors and other relatively boring administrative stuff, I found myself confronting a gap in my uni course: I had to take a year off, because the end date of my last course overlapped with the start date of the course I was to do this year. ‘That’s ok’ I said to myself, the optimistic side of my brain piping up. I saw an open horizon, a chance to do so much that I’d put on the backburner. ‘You can learn a language! Read all those books that are sitting sad and neglected around your room! Get another job and save up for something epic!’
And so I went with it, welcoming the new year and the chance to catch up on all those projects that had been shoved to the side when my uni routine had become too demanding. I started a language, practicing letters at work on little bits of receipt paper when no one was around. I got two more jobs and cleaned my room like I’d been meaning to all that time ago….
‘But it’s already the end of April’, a sad little voice keeps saying to me. I wish it would shut up. My sister (who is very wise) tells me often, ‘it’s never too late!’ and ‘Einstein’s career didn’t take off until his forties’ and other such spirit-mustering stuff. And I agree with her – time can be something we can get obsessive about when we become too aware of it as yet another force to which our lives are glued (like Fortune and Chaos). But then again…seeing time as a restriction is perhaps not the best aproach.
In a search for some sort of consolation or something…I went on the google and found these images, which got me thinking:
This one jumped out at me first. I think it’s what I’d been trying to say when I’d attempted to reason with that nagging little voice: I’m not saying time isn’t out there in the world – things age, decay, die, and we see that everyday. But the frustrating concept of time is perhaps something that exists most in the human conception of it. We feel it chasing us because we keep it so firmly within our sight. Yes, that cliché of not being able to just ‘live in the moment’. John Green mentions this in a vlog here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUnQ-wOPGUE) where he talks about sociologist Peter Berger. Berger wrote that unlike humans – who sometimes don’t know how to fit into their own skin – ‘dogs know how to be dogs’….(Check it out, he’s a great vlogger…also note…I bring him up all the time in real life so expect to see the names JOHN and HANK GREEN plastered over this page from time to time.)
The next one that jumped out at me was this one:
The Weight of Time by Julie De Waroquier
This one I love especially because it reminds me of Albert Camus and Sisyphus; time can be a heavy burden that we’re constantly aware of, and when we obsess over it, it can feel like we’re carrying a terrible weight around. But maybe she should just run out that door. Leave that giant clock to roll around in the room alone.
And then lastly I found this one – which is probably my favourite:
In this one I found the consolation I was looking for when I started typing into the google (*4). It’s like a modern-day ‘memento mori’, to remind us that what we can’t escape the fact that what we have is temporary. And that maybe this isn’t a bad thing. Perfection and eternity needn’t be connected. British journalist Bryan Appleyard points this out in his book ‘How to Live Forever or Die Trying’ in which he writes about the social implications of cryonics and life-extension technology. I read it once and never forgot it.
So anyway…I’m not really sure how this post turned from a post about the frustrations built into the human understanding of time into a memento mori…But it seems memento mori was exactly the point I was trying to make. Impermanence, things ending, time ticking away needn’t be something to mourn over. It can remind us to think carefully about how we use what time we have.
References, footnotes, video recommendations;
1) So I found this image here: http://merapoetics.com/2013/04/16/time-willows-away/#comments but unfortunately this blogger was also unable to trace the original source. If this is yours please let me know, it’s beautiful, and I want to reference it properly. …Anticipated title of next entry ‘Internet referencing is a Frustrating Thing’…jokes…No but seriously it is. John Green knows it too: Watch ‘Places I’ve Never Been’ here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xVN9nenCGwM
2) The Weight of Time by Julie De Waroquier. Found it here: http://www.artlimited.net/image/en/330827
3) Chrono-Shredder by Susannah Hetrich. Found it here: http://dornob.com/time-killing-chrono-shredder-is-a-day-dicing-wall-calender/ The article accompanying it is worth a read…if you have the time ;P
4) Is it just me or is my friend the google becoming some kind of modern stand in for a guru or a make-do oracle of some kind? Something like a digitalised source of guidance, like a hologram-Jesus or a pocket Ghandi??….according to Alain De Botton the 12th most common question typed into the google is ‘what shall I do with my life’ (Watch ‘The Dangers of the Internet’ here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uquRzrcwA18)…what do you think of this?! What are the social implications for such a phenomenon?