TOTALLY OPTIONAL PHOTO: Shuman clock guy.gif
The cheap, white plastic wall clock in our bathroom just died the other day. I think the reason is that it was just not designed to survive in a humid place like a bathroom. Go figure. I tried electro-shock, replacing the double-A Duracell in the clock, but it still only ran for another day or so. I took this as a sign that the clock’s old ticker was about shot, and gave up trying to revive it. Probably not a lot of families have a clock on the wall of their bathroom, but this one does. We decided, several years ago, that it would be better to know how far ahead of, or behind schedule each family member might be, in using their share of precious morning shower time. Time really can run away from us, ‘at times,’ especially during a sleepy, steamy turn in the shower.
To me, the problem with time (yes, I do have a problem with time) is that we feel the need to keep measuring every second of it, ‘all the time’ and we live by those darned measurements. We set our clocks by them, so to speak. As I mentioned, my family even showers by them. The moment a baby is born the time is recorded, just as if knowing the exact second that child left the womb will someday have monumental significance, to someone. The baby is born at a certain hour, minute and second, am, pm, eastern, central, Pacific, or whatever other time might be the precise local moment of the birth, on earth. Then, for that baby, the main goal is to just make it to his or her first birthday, celebrated with presents, before the babe has any idea what a present is, and a cake with one candle. A year later there will be another cake, but with two candles. Next July 10th one of those babies, (yours truly) will need a cake with sixty candles. The Barre fire department has been notified of the date, and is very happy that I don’t particularly like cake.
It has lately occurred to me that all of this candle-counting, life-measuring stuff could be a waste of ‘time,’ because I’m pretty sure that there is no such thing as that thing we call time. Truthfully, honestly, I believe that our race, many years ago, tinkered around, fooled around, and frantically fashioned mechanical things, (such things eventually evolved into our cheap plastic bathroom clock) to measure something that really doesn’t exist at all. That’s right. I’m taking some time to think that time, the thing we humans stress over and live by, does not exist. Minutes and hours and weeks and months and years and centuries define us, but those things may be only in the human mind. They are, simply, the accumulating and accumulated results of us, and our machines, attempting to measure the distance between two precise points in something that does not even exist at all. Spooky, huh? Well, let me explain just a little before you send the men in the nice white coats to give me one of those jackets with the long, wrap-around sleeves.
You see, to me, with the accompanying nod of many of the world’s poets and scientists of the past, all that we human beings have is ‘right now.’ We have this moment… this very moment. That is all. In fact, we barely have even that. Right as we realize that we have a moment, that moment is gone. “The Present is a Point just passed.” -David Russell. Time is, as the Bible says the very life of man is, “a vapor.” We cannot change even one tiny thing about the past, not even something within the moment that only just passed. There is good reason for this. The past no longer exists, and you cannot change anything about something that does not exist. (I’m starting to get a headache.) We, also, although we may plan, cannot control the future, as it is not yet here. Not only is next year not yet here, neither is the next nanosecond. Therefore, the future exists no more than does the past, that is, until that fleeting moment when the future becomes the present. And a nanosecond after that, it does not exist again, as it is now in the past. As humans, we are probably the only living things on earth that even think about time. I am unconvinced that my wife’s dachshund has any notion of the passing of a day, or of the idea of ‘now.’ And, even for that dog, ‘now’ is all that there is. Somehow, this doesn’t seem to worry the dog at all.
I have no idea why the sad passing of our bathroom clock got me to thinking about all of this, but I’m glad that it did. It seems to have given me the opportunity to remind you, and myself also, to not fret about the past, as it is unchangeable, gone from existence, and the negative things of it should be gone from our remembrance. The apostle Paul knew this, two thousand years ago. “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,” Philippians 3:13-14.
Likewise, we also have no promise of tomorrow, or even of the next second, as recorded in Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” We need to live in the only time we have. We need to live right now… no, not in that point few seconds ago, when you began reading this sentence, right now.
I believe that we human types have no idea what in the world time really is, even as we try to capture it, keep it, and measure it with our machines. Really, all we can do is record time’s passing, and I do suppose there are reasons to do that. It is important that I get to work on time. I need to end this column and go buy another cheap plastic clock for the bathroom. I think it’s about time. You probably think so, too.
“George’s World,” a new 740 page collection of George’s columns from The World, is available at xlibris.com, amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and your favorite bookstore. “The Smoke And Mirrors Effect,” George’s first novel, can be seen at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. Happy Reading!