Or maybe it should be "Time Redux". Anyway, this is a follow-up to my earlier blog entry about time, and I suggest you read that one first, if you have not done so already. Actually, that is just a clever ploy to get you to read more of my blog!
Anyway.....time. And by extension, timekeeping and everything else that goes with time.
Try to imagine a life without timekeeping. It sounds easy at first, but you probably can't. You know the month, the year, the day of the week. There is a clock on your wall or the dashboard of your car or in your cellphone. You have a schedule, a calendar, a time for dinner or a movie.
Yet, all around you, timekeeping is ignored!
Birds are not late. The Dog does not check her watch or look at the clock on the microwave oven. The Rotten Little Kittens do not fret over passing holidays. Animals do not stress over birthdays and getting older.
Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hours. And because of this, Man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature under our Sun endures.
A fear of time running out.
But lets look at Mans relationship with Time. Long before the Egyptian obelisks, Man was catching shadows. Long before the Greek clepsydras, Man was measuring and moving water. Man invented the sundial, the first clock, even the first calendar. Imagine being the first man who did this-you would truly be "ahead of your time"!
And consider the word "Time". We use so many different phrases with it!
Pass time. Waste time. Kill time. Lose time. In good time. About time. Take you time. Save time. A long time. Right on time. Mind the time. Be on time. Spare time. Keep time. Stall for time. Out of time.
There are as many expressions with "time" as there are minutes in a day. But once, there was no word for it at all. Why? Because no one was counting. And then one man began.
And everything changed.
Before you measure the years, you measure the days. And before the days, you measure the Moon, charting the stages-full moon, half moon, quarter moon, moonless. Unlike the Sun, which looked the same every day, the changing moon gave Man something to count. Eventually, He noticed a pattern-what those later Men called "Greeks" would title "months". Maybe He made a mark on the wall of his cave. Maybe he scratched a line in the dirt. Maybe He piled one pebble on top of another. No matter how it was done, Man had created the first calendar.
And now all of his days are numbered. Man starts the move from the simple light of existence and travels deeper and deeper into the darkness of His own obsessions.
The hands of a clock will find their way home. This was true the moment that Man marked his first sun shadow. He had predicted that tomorrow would contain a moment like today, and the next day a moment like tomorrow. And every generation who followed that man is determined to sharpen his concept, counting ever more precisely the measure of their lives. Sundials were placed in doorways. Giant water clocks were constructed in city squares. The move to mechanical designs-weight driven, verge, and foliot models-led to tower clocks and grandfather clocks and eventually clocks that would fit on a shelf.
Then, one day a French mathematician tied a string to a timepiece, put it around his wrist......and Man began to wear Time on his body.
Accuracy improved at a startling rate. Although it took until the 16th century or so for the minute hand to be invented, by the 17th century the Pendulum Clock was accurate to within a minute a day. Less than 100 years later, it was within a second.
Time becomes an industry. Man divides the world into zones so that transportation could be accurately scheduled. Trains pull away at precise moments and ships pushed their engines to ensure on-time arrivals. People wake to clanging alarms. business adhere to "hours of operation". Every factory has a whistle and every classroom has a clock.
"What time is it?" is one of the most common questions in the entire world, and is found on page one of every foreign-language instructional book.
"What time is it?" "Que' hora es?" "Skol'ko syejchas vryemyeni?"
Man.....You count the days, marked the hours, and used the minutes.
But do you use them wisely? To be still and quiet? To be grateful? To lift and be lifted? To help others?
Use your time well. You never think you have as much as you need, and you need more than you think you have. Because there is never enough.
Eventually, Time runs out.
Here are some additional thoughts on this subject. Have you ever really given much thought to your time? Now, this happened in a round-about way, so bear with me here. I was watching the news the other day, and the segment about celebrity birthdays comes on, and it was Mel Brooks' birthday-the old bastard is something like 85 years old-and I was thinking "Fuck, this guy is old!".
And then I started remembering his movies. Which led to thinking about the people who starred in his movies. Which led to thinking about people who are in the same generation as I am.
Which led to panic-fuck, I'M old! The people who made the movies I grew up watching, the people who made the music I grew up listening to, the people who formed my generation.....all gone. Or going! Jesus Christ, have you looked at Keith Richards lately? Or Bill fucking Murrey? Cheech and Chong, all of the great rock bands?
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wake up one day and be the only one left? That is how I feel sometimes. Everything that I knew, everything that I grew up with.
It really is not that way, of course. There is no "beginning", just as there is no "end". All there is, is is! But sometimes, like when you read of another death of a person from your "time", it doesn't seem that way.
I would like to be that guy-the last one left. While I was there to see it all get started, I don't remember it (this is a personal spiritual thing, and quite deep, so lets not go there now), but I would like to see how it all ends again. Fire? Water? Something from the vast reaches of the multiverse? Or maybe like an old watch that has not been wound, it will just slowly.....stop. What thoughts would go through your mind, sitting there and knowing that you are the very last one left, and when you go, that is it. Would you scrabble around desperately trying to leave some kind of mark, some kind of sign that says "we were here once, and now we are gone", even as you know that there will be nobody to read your sign after you leave?
I think that I would, just as a way of thumbing my nose at the multiverse one last time. A way of saying "Fuck you, I have taken everything you can dish out AND I AM STILL HERE! I MADE IT, YOU BASTARDS! Right to the very fucking end!"
It brings to mind the closing lines in one of my favorite books called "The Forever War", in which the race of man has been hunted down and wiped out of the universe by a race of aliens all except for the last man. He is a soldier in the war and is the pilot of a sentient spacecraft who is being chased down by the last of the alien race-while we have been exterminated, we have taken every single one of them with us. As the chase reaches speeds well in excess of the speed of light, time moves forward, to the point of the big crunch. As the last man is being chased into the singularity, a dialog opens between him and the alien, and he discovers why they have been trying to kill the race of man. The gist of the conversation is that, even though he is the very last man left of a race that has committed a monsterous crime, the race of man will make it past the singularity and into whatever lies beyond, and no matter what else may happen, we have won in the end and we go out "Not with a whimper, but with a roar of triumph!"
That is how I see myself as going out.....not with a whimper, but with a roar of triumph And as far as being the last one? Well, we are all the last one, at the very end. Just you and the multiverse, staring each other down and waiting to see who will blink first.