Time waits for no person and sits momentarily yet ceaselessly, at its set apportioned place, in the midst of our circumstance-of-state, in the present. The present cannot be grasped, either by possession or understanding.
The moment comes to us by thought or experience or deed or opportunity, missed or taken, and then goes, as it gives way to the next moment in the chain of events which, when strung together, are the corpus of our lives.
Times In Terms Of The Past
And if only we could, by capacity and will and planning, possess each moment, by the material of memory, what a possession we would have!
But far from being given everything, we’ve the potential to take whatever we can recall and possess it in a moment, for a moment. It pays to build the capacity of memory.
Over the entirety of our lives this library of available memory exists—and it’s more than we could ever handle.
So much for the past—what’s gone—what can never ‘be’ again, unless by re-creation (a thing having at least two meanings).
Times In Terms Of The Present
Time, in terms of the present, is where time truly exists. It cannot, by truth, exist elsewhere.
Beyond memories of past and plans for the future, both borrowing from history and the imagination, sits a translucent commodity—one, again, we cannot have the whole of.
But, in some contexts, we do.
We’re sown fully into life by the fact we’re every bit here, alive, functioning in this world. Our moments have a pungent reality about them nobody can deny.
We do, in fact, possess each moment, but the possession is deeply conditional—at terms we also cannot deny. We stand, by fact of our presents, in the unparalleled position of possessing nothing but, at the same time, possessing all things.
I mean, how would we describe life to an onlooker who’s never lived? We couldn’t find the words or image or any narrative to convey the limited fullness of it. Many understandings in this life conspire against us, but the understanding of the limited fullness of time is one motivating many a correct thought and deed in dealing with an existential enigma. The limited fullness of time communicates a paradox, and if we can understand it much better are our lives.
Time In Terms Of The Future
This brings us to paradigms of the future: the only place borne of true hope, for the present hope is always dogged, to some degree, by anxiety for the lived condition.
Our futures fuel our presents. If not, we couldn’t go on. If we’ve never been loved, we live for the day, still coming, when we will be. The future holds faithful to our hope. Only when we despair of the future, completely, do we lose all sense of meaning. But, realistically, there’s always hope, because the future is so uncertain.
The past gives us our meaning and the future gives us our hope, in a world where the present is all we have. Making sense of time is utilising the productive past and hoping, effervescently, for a good future, whilst retaining control over what we have: the present.
© 2012 S. J. Wickham.
Written on a train.