On time and again

Nearly three years ago, I met a boy who didn’t feel things. He and I called them “doors” — mine were always open, emotions free-flowing whenever I stayed up late to talk to him; and his were always closed, except for moments when my words could pry him open and he felt pinches of things he could name.

He was strange, and I liked strange people. He invested in conversation and that’s how I knew he would probably get it. People who appreciate words usually get it. Now, pay close attention.

Untitled
Sabino

One afternoon we were talking about time and how time is, essentially, a concept. Everything about time is a hundred-percent man-made, from the clock to the calendar and the idea of seconds and years. As we guessed at how the first person invented it, we tried to define time in terms of things that actually were rather than things that were supposed.

Are you still with me? If we were talking about, maybe algebra, we’d have to define unknown values in terms of something that is sure before we can go on. And that’s what we were trying to do. We were trying to prove the nature of time–something we weren’t sure really existed–by recreating it with parts that we were sure of. Parts like change.

Now, change is scientific. When we get down to the subatomic (or whatever the smallest unit is these days, I’m not sure) level, everything changes. There are poems going around saying that our bodies change completely every six months or seven years; and while I’m not sure if that’s absolutely true, the point of the matter is that everything moves. Even in an empty room, things happen. Dust gathers, air moves. I don’t know much about space, but my romantic notions of stars mean that I imagine space as changing and moving too. Everything changes.

Everything.

So he and I decided that time was nothing more than the unit at which change took place.

And we said what if, hypothetically, we could have a room where absolutely nothing moved? There was no air, dust and mold didn’t gather, atoms for some reason didn’t move, nothing breathed or grew old, and everything was incredibly and perfectly still. Would time exist in this little room?

Obviously, there was no way to make our little experiment happen. But we chose to believe that time didn’t happen in that room because change didn’t happen in that room. That was comforting because, within the expanses of our ignorance, we made believe a supposed impossibility. We made time stop existing, at least in theory. Or maybe just in our imagination.

Alice in Wonderland: White Rabbit - No Time to Say Hello, Goodbye...
Brandon Christopher Warren

Now, I split this train into two.

First: I know you probably aren’t reading this, M, but I want to pretend that you are. When you left, you didn’t say goodbye, but you did say you would be gone for two years. Well, it’s been two years. And I realize we never talked about how much change could happen in that much time. Or whether you would come back to see it.

I’ve changed. I bet you have, too. But you’re still the strangest person I know, although I’ve tried hard to find someone close. I wonder if you still don’t feel much. I still feel too much, and I remember you all the time, M. I’m sure you’ll get it. You always got it better than nearly anyone did. I hope that doesn’t change either, no matter how much time passes by.

Second: in a daydream, somebody asked me what I would like to do if I could stop time for a little while. I brought back this time-theory to mind and I decided I couldn’t answer that question because, as long as I’m still doing something, then time is still passing by.

Instead, I asked my daydream friend if feelings counted as change, as something happening, moving, or being done. Because if it didn’t, then that’s what I want to “do” with stopped time. I want to find the happiest, most important second of my life, and just pause. Thoughts won’t flow, feelings won’t change, nothing will interrupt to ruin it, and everything will just stay suspended in existence seemingly infinitely.

Friends, maybe that’s what forever really is. Maybe we won’t find “forever” in trying to make things last a long time, but instead in finding one second that is good enough and letting it hang in its place, unbothered by the ones that come before or after it. Maybe that’s it. I like that.

***

Post-note: The amount of feedback I’ve been receiving is overwhelming, and the compliments on my personal story and my writing are heartwarming. If I don’t reply to your comment, please don’t think that I don’t appreciate it because I do! I do very much! I simply can’t reply to all of you! :)

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83 comments
  1. I wish time could be frozen, but realize it can`t. Time can be painful breaths, that you don`t want to take, memories that were good but then became bad. It is moments, details, sensations, and without it, we are empty.

  2. when I was a kid there was a guy nicknamed ‘Timex’ who in the language of those far-off days was ‘simple’ – he got his nickname because he would stop passers-by and stutter/stammer out his one and only question, “What’s the time?”
    One day he crossed the street to blurt out to me ” T-t-time’sabloodygreatthing, that’swhatyoudon’tknow.”

    • Apple said:

      Lovely post! Short but just as full of feeling. <3

  3. tylerburgese said:

    I always appreciate when someone or something can make me think as much as you just did. I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of time and I would like to thank you for sharing that. A book that I really think you would find interesting is “The Time Keeper” by Mitch Albom. It is a fable about the man who created time and is punished for trying to measure the greatest gift of all. Take a look if you ever have time, and thanks again for this post!

    • Apple said:

      Mitch Albom! I will definitely pick it up :)

  4. Hey there philosopher, great blog post. Love your thoughts, very astute. Keep it up, and nice photos too.

  5. ah, mebbe pay me a ha’pence… wuzzn’t it gurdjieff? who surmised: (to the æffect of) that ‘time’ was viewing a progression of, say, things in 3D. you and/or M in a room, dust motes swirling, air-molecules clacking against each other (sumtimes i think i hear those). ‘time’ is the 4th dimension to the 3. say we somehow live in 2D and would view one instance of a sequence of 2D after another in … ‘time’, which would also be the 3D most of us more-or-less live in. at least i think it was gurdjieff.
    stil: you’re thought-provoking and an imaginative weaver!

  6. Love the idea of suspending time in a happy moment and having that feeling last forever. People always want to make time go faster when things are down, and we often put too little emphasis on those times that were truly wonderful, instead allowing them to be marred by what we perceive as the negative outcome. I like your approach much better :).

  7. I like this post so much. It reminds me of the book the time keeper. It’s sad to say that time is the least valued gift we have.

  8. rasha96 said:

    The best post I’ve ever read so far .. Keep writing

  9. Reblogged this on lovebtwnthelines's Blog and commented:
    I had to reblog this, because I have read it everyday since I first came across it.
    Time is such a fragile element in our lives & one of the main things we have no control over. This post shows that we must learn to appreciate the constant change that illustrates time. I have to learn to love moments more while I am experiencing them instead of wishing I’d appreciated them more after they have already passed away.
    “Maybe we won’t find “forever” in trying to make things last a long time, but instead in finding one second that is good enough and letting it hang in its place, unbothered by ones that come before or after it.”
    I like that too! :)
    That’s the goal; to stop worrying about a “forever” that may never come & to live in the now that we already have. :)

  10. even the thought of what you said makes me calmer and happier. “I want to find the happiest, most important second of my life, and just pause. Thoughts won’t flow, feelings won’t change, nothing will interrupt to ruin it, and everything will just stay suspended in existence seemingly infinitely.”
    loved your post, it is simply beautiful and resonates something of everyone.
    congratulations on being freshly pressed.

  11. Forgive me if my comment is a bit long, but your story has inspired me to share my own from many years ago. It is something I haven’t had to pleasure of sharing with others, and I figured, writer to writer, perhaps my own will touch some small, intimate part of you as yours did.

    I have killed someone with my inability to love; I was young, and wounded.
    His name was Feng and it suited him too well; I called him Huojin because god and fire is forever.
    He called me Yue. He was my fire god and I was his moon.

    He was a beautiful, naive chinese boy. Hair as dark as the deepest earth, skin of the whitest wave, eyes that defied beauty and warmth. He was a lovely boy, something I had not had in a long time. I had never touched him although nights we stayed up late staring into one another’s eyes and commenting on the ways making love would be…a special reserve. He thought it romantic to kiss the pulse in his lover’s throat, and I would devour the collarbone. He gave because that was all he knew how to do and I took because there was nothing more I could give.

    The night I think I might have loved him best he had just turned nineteen and he was very fluent in English; the year before he went to France to study the culture and in result his voice carried an accent with a crispness to it. It was refreshing and it was loving when he spoke his native language to me. He opened a bottle of gouqi jiu and poured a glass for me. He had sent me a letter, handwritten, for this occasion and urged me to open it, but I wasn’t to read it until he finished.

    Do you understand how beautiful words can be when you do not understand them? In that moment I could not listen to him with my ears but my heart, and the sounds were beautiful. He even stumbled once and I could not follow the utterly human trait for he was complete perfection; so much tears came to my eyes and I swallowed the sobs. But he could see and I hated it immensely. After he was finished he let me read the rough translation of the poem, and though the words were simple and unbeautiful as when he spoke it, I could hear the annunciations of the way he spoke. And that is what made it so beautiful:

    THE LOTUS BLOSSOM

    To write poetry to a lotus blossom,
    is to swallow the morning of a god and sleep
    with beauty –you. My life is, yours.

    Shortly thereafter, he sent a video that breaks my heart to this day. I watched him while he made the choice of ending his life — and in moments, someone I had cared for dearly had simply vanished beneath the calm facade of a river. It froze on a silent moment, the water shining from the slanted angles of the sun; nature had not known what it had taken from me. I don’t know if he did either. This lovely piece of writing shouldn’t be titled something as mundane as passive musings. Give the memory its proper due.

  12. I read this months ago, but it is only now that I could say I had really grasp this one. Perhaps, I had read this with a clouded mind before or just didn’t care or whatever; now, I feel weird saying this and and I feel like I am not even conveying what I previously thought I would say, oh well. (Reset.) I guess this is because of the things that happened recently in my life that had made me sink deeper to the heart of this writing. Dostoyevsky was right when he said that our unhappiness leads to the deeper understanding to other people’s unhappiness. And I just read this one with a heavy heart and felt it, really felt it, to the extreme maybe….. I’m lost… Bye.

    • Apple said:

      I wish that no one ever needed to know the unhappiness I felt when I felt it.

  13. That’s a contradictory statement, I think. Maybe one of the reasons you wrote this one is that deep inside of you, you wanted someone to know who knows it feels, you wanted to know you’re not alone… Well, I don’t know for sure, anyway.

    • Apple said:

      Friend, you can’t call it a contradiction because you don’t know what I meant or felt.

      • That’s what “I” think based on what I see, friend. That’s why I added “I think” to the statement, and even “maybe” and “I don’t know for sure, maybe.”

  14. This, I can truly relate to, Apple! It’s as if you were speaking in behalf of me. We were friends during high school. We did admit we like each other, but it never got close to being us. College came and not a single text or call from him. Even after four years of no communication and personal contact, I still feel too much. And it hurts sometimes.

    • Apple said:

      *HUGS*

      I hope that hurt will one day find its way into hope; not the hope that he’ll call you, but the hope that it will hit you and it will not hurt anymore.

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