“The secret o’ life is enjoying the passage of time.
Any fool can do it, there ain’t nothin’ to it.
Nobody knows how we got to the top of the hill,
But since we’re on our way down, we might as well enjoy the ride…” **
It’s all about time, the great equalizer, that ineffable stratum that caused even Albert Einstein to scratch his wooly head. It’s Tempus, who fugits about without our permission. We write about time, we sing about time. We save it and waste it; we worry about it, oh lawdy-lawdy how we do that, and to little avail. Time is. It’s my cocoon, my mansion, my prison and my playground. Yours too, depending upon the head-heart space you inhabit at any given moment. And if Einstein can’t figure it out, how in the blazes are we supposed to reckon with it?
“Repent!” demanded Harlan Ellison’s relentless, ruthless Ticktockman. I try to resist, but wristwatches are my “Catcher in the Rye”. More on this in a tad.
My Left Brain is obsessed with time. I creatively sublimate her beastly preoccupation by transforming those concerns into scientific and artistic investigation and play. Hey! It works for me. At least, that is the story I tell. Call me Ms. Valiant-for-Time. It’s not a perfect solution, but, but knowledge is power, I tell myself. Between you and me, I know it’s only a sneaky way for Lil’ Left Brain to pretend she’s bested it. I’m not fooled. Time will pass whether I turn it into symbol and art or not, so damn those chronometers,… into the breach I daily go. It’s my way.
Time-hoarder me amasses books on the subject. And there’s that embarrassing collection of timepieces in both Second Life and in that other so-called real life paradise I call: The Happy Planet. Every day I navigate shelves and boxes full, piles of hit-me-over-my-pumpkin-head symbolism. I also have personal relationships with my timepieces, naming them Harlan, Isaac, Pema, Pablo and so on. When one is damaged or goes missing, I grieve. That sort of on-going loss sucks, so to remedy it I have imposed a years-long moratorium on new acquisitions. Avoidance and denial are friends, and I challenge you to get through one day without a little snuggle from one or the other. Chuckle if you will, gentle reader. Even during my intense collecting period, I rarely wore them. I have not worn a watch in more than thirty years. Maybe an hour here or there, okay? I don’t understand the mechanism, but possessing them calms me. Flying in the face of this, when I’m well and rested, I always know what time it is, plus or minus five minutes without a glimpse of watch, clock, cel phone, news channel ticker, or microwave oven. It’s a nifty trick in today’s world, where those digits leer at us constantly. My internal metronome whirrrrrs on just fine without anything strapped to my wrist as a reminder, thank you very much. I’m tick-tick-ticking, sixty beats every adagio minute.
I am a timepiece, see? because I am a musician. Musicians are all from another planet where time is concerned. On top of that, Life’s Little Soundtrack plays within me — incessantly. I’m capable of annoying random people anywhere on the planet with my finely-honed talent of breaking into song to match every moment, every mundanity. Call it a character defect if you must. Trust me, there is music for every tick-tock of life. I’ll apologize in advance now for waxing musical while blogging. Bless you for your forbearance. It’s me. My beloved ones in all worlds accept this about me with compassion and knowing smirks.
Music is the math one does without knowing one is doing math. It’s one way to master Tempus while running our human race. I began to learn how when I was very young. So young, in fact, that I remember few details of my early training. I don’t recall it ever being difficult. Mind you, I don’t think I was a prodigy. Virtuosity is rare, but mastery is not. Short story — I didn’t quit. Time passed. Ease and mastery came. And the music-time dyad lives at the DNA-level of my being, “to soothe the savage breast, soften rocks or bend knotted oaks”. (William Congreve)
Bear with me now as I climb out of my tangential hole. Perhaps it’s not a hole at all, but rather the natural course of any effort to speak meaningfully about the slippery entity we call time. Our great equalizer. Really, I can only jabber about time from my overlook. I’m not qualified to do anything but recite the hard science I’ve read, and what fun is that? The fun for me is in the creation of quirky pictures rife with metaphor. And sometimes — in some moments — I can peek out from my temporal cocoon, and stretch into time-space to blow kisses into the Cosmos. I like that our experiences wearing Time like a comfortable garment are unique to each of us. So cool! I hear you singing with Albert and JT and me:
“The thing about time is that time isn’t really real. It’s all on your point of view.
How does it feel for you in there? (Yeah).”
I’m grateful for time, and not just because it’s the perfect cosmic solution to everything happening all at once. How does it feel for you in there?
* title is a quotation snippet from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden:
“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.”
** All lyrics quoted throughout are the work of James Taylor from his song The Secret o’ Life