When It’s Spring and the Ground is Stirring

When It’s Spring and the Ground is Stirring

I remember living sometimes, when it’s spring and the ground is stirring. I remember people—their footsteps hard against the packed earth. I remember mornings of flower blossoms and seeing girls out in their summer clothes, just slightly too soon. This is life: a fleeting progression from youth to age, just slightly too soon. It’s all we have. And yet, and yet…

It’s not that I wish for more. I abhor the slow track. Spring is the dying time in my mind. It is the heartbreaking loneliness. It is the bitterness of retreat. But that’s not true: what I’m picturing is protracted winter, instead. Like the winters when my parents left me. The ones that meandered into April and then May. Continue reading

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Time Travelers of the Abyss

If you were given the invention of time, then all the clocks would turn to lead and you’d seat yourself among the stars shining like so many atoms misfiring in the moment of creation. If you had the time there would be none. Because frankly the forward press of events frightens you. How much better to knot time into a net and catch moments like so many fishes—only to cast them back to sea. You’d leave yourself only the potential world which is ceaseless and unchanging, bending under the weight of moments that maybe were, but will never be.

You know time isn’t linear, anyway. It is but mostly linear. Things have a tendency to pile up in it: accumulating like so many obstacles at the end of the course. In the crystalline structure of the immaculate world, such things would not be allowed. But we are here: living in a world so stretched at the seams you can practically stick your finger through them. You can see the eyes beyond using them as peepholes: watching from fairer pasture, concerned with whether you’re rationing your moments efficiently.

Sometimes you wish they’d mind their own business.

Oh, but they are. And you are their business. And there’s no way to escape that when you’re only going one way. Clearly, your performance would be much improved with the addition of “reverse.” But that would write away the universe and the spaces and the pockets of it. So that wouldn’t work.

But they still can’t keep you from trying.

Bardo

BARDO—NOUN

  • (in Tibetan Buddhism) a state of existence between death and rebirth, varying in length according to a person’s conduct in life and manner of, or age at, death.
  •  an indeterminate, transitional state: wandering adrift in a bardo of intense negativity, blame, disappointment, criticism, and denial

-Oxford Dictionary

“The Tibetan word bardo means literally “intermediate state” – also translated as ‘transitional state’ or ‘in-between state’ or ‘liminal state.'”

—Wikipedia

There are actually other topics I want to write about (my DIY cracklebox, a Hegel quote, a Song Dynasty painting) but alas, I won’t have time until the end of the month.  For now, I’m stealing an hour for reflection, and to thrust such introspection upon the world seems rather self-indulgent (according to Ace at least, and he is an expert on such matters) but really on days like this the only reason time exists is to be stolen in the small hours that live in between things.  In my current case, I’m stealing the bardo between my music theory final and what will be an inevitably stupid meeting with a school therapist.

There’s a scene in John Dies at the End by David Wong where one of the characters falls in and out of time literally, calling his friend from all manner of hours besides the present.  I feel the opposite: that time is flowing around me at different speeds, never leaving me enough time to be sleepy and half awake in the morning, or stretching individual moments until they break.

Yes, I know I’m not unique in this—the feeling that the present is just this illusory gulf between the insurmountable cliffs of the future and the past—but it’s been exacerbated lately until I find myself trying to steal moments by manipulating time in my own head.  Stretching fifteen minutes into enough time to catch up with a friend, or throwing away three hours with another one.

The universe is as transient and malleable as human thought, it seems.  But when you dwell beneath its canopy (the ebb and flow of existence) it is as crystalline and unforgiving as a night of cold stars.  And here, time is a solid presence, flowing from birth to death, counted by ticking atoms waiting like bombs in their bunkers.  (Aside: I’m pretty sure “bunker” is not the word I’l looking for, actually, but I couldn’t remember what the-place-where-you-store-bombs would be called and missiles in their silos doesn’t have quite the same ring to it…and now I have “Where do you store bombs?” in my Google search history which possibly just put me on three government watch lists.)

Anyway.  Time.  The movement of future to present to past.  This progression means if you dwell on the future, in the impossible possibilities of it, you eventually find yourself fixated on the past.  Events slip past you, you know: like thieves in the night, robbing the world of its boundless potential and leaving the irreversible in its place.

Perhaps, all this time, I’ve been cycling around regret, an emotion I may be slightly too familiar with for my age.  But the thing about regret is that it’s also something you do, not something that happens to you. Events, pasts, the end of infinite possibility: you regret things.

But then regret itself is also a thing.  You carry it with you.  With regrets… She sends her regrets… They are like so many rocks in my hands, weighing me down with their love of the earth.

I have to put them down.  And I have to stop doing this thing: regretting.  Because regret itself does as well: it is itself a thief of time, stealing the present from us as we dwell on the irreversible past.

And if I am capable at all of bending time the only thing I can move is the present: stretching each individual moment like taffy even as they flow into the past.  The future is some untouchable unknown, undefinable (undivinable, even) while the past is irreversible.  And only we who are in bardo (we transient, changing and changeable creatures) can decide what belongs in each.

(I know you didn’t ask, but in case you were wondering: Blade Runner is always relevant.)