On Time, And The Mystery Of Life


I do believe in an everyday sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.”

Charles de Lint

Time is a funny thing.

I mean it—it really is quite strange, if you think about it. I mean, people say the present is all that exists, and I understand that, I do, but I can’t help but feel as if it’s a little more complicated than that.

I think perhaps time only exists in our heads, that our clocks and watches all measure the concept of Time, rather than Time itself, the way someone might think the colour of a fruit is a good way to determine how it will taste. Perhaps “Time”, as we know it, doesn’t even exist.

When I stare at the wall, immersed in this single moment, life, suddenly, seems nothing more than hundreds and thousands of such moments, one after the other, flashing past in a rapid succession. If I close my eyes, I can transport myself so vividly to certain moments in my life, experiencing the exact slant of the sunshine, the smell, the air, the sights, that it feels as though a piece of my past is transplanting my present. That the past becomes my present. Where is the present, then? Buried beneath the past, like two layers of temporal cards stacked one upon the other?

Now here is where it gets especially odd. If the past can elbow its way into the present, through the power our mind, then who is to say the future can’t? It’s all the same river, is it not, so surely it can flow both ways?

Occasionally—and it is almost impossible for me to describe this properly—I get glimpses of the future, in the same fashion story ideas, or particular images that are the first seeds of a story, flash across my mind’s eye. I don’t know where they come from, or if they are real, and reason almost forbids me from thinking them anything more than delusions.

They feel real, though. I see, for a brief moment, a scene, meeting a certain someone, sitting in a certain porch, a certain tree in the corner of a backyard, and they feel so right and certain, the way some stories fall fully-formed into your lap, as perfect as looking into the eyes of your child for the first time, that sometimes, I can’t help feel there is more to Time than meets the eye.

And this got me thinking about how there is more to everything in life that meets the eye, really. This entire business of living, the worlds, the trees, the sky and the animals; evolution and bacteria and quarks; love and happiness, misery, hate, suffering: this great stew of stuff seems incredibly complex, and important, in a way we will never understand—just like we will never truly understand Time. So much of life, and the world, is beyond human comprehension. All we can do is fumble around in the glorious magic of everything that is, exploring as much of it as we can, our eyesight limited, our arms only able to reach so far, awash in the knowledge that something wonderful and incomprehensible is occurring.

It’s beautiful. It’s the key to happiness, I think, to be in a constant state of reverence and delight at the world, and life, and everything in-between. We’re like children gamboling and frolicking in a playground more immense than our tiny minds can ever comprehend, with a whole world of cities and roads and trees and houses beyond it we will never see or touch.

And maybe, in that playground, Time is a pigeon, flying in the sky above our heads as we play, one tiny bird that has strayed from some great flock pirouetting through the air elsewhere.


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