Saturday, October 25, 2008

On Time...

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once.” - John Archibald Wheeler

I have been fascinated by time for as long as I can remember. As with a variety of subjects, I collect quotations about time. These are three favorites:

"The flower that you hold in your hands was born today and already it is as old as you are." ~ Antonio Porchia

"Who forces time is pushed back by time; who yields to time finds time on his side." ~ The Talmud

"Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations." ~ Faith Baldwin

I started to notice a problem with time when I noticed odd things happening to the children of our friends. Someone we knew would have a daughter, a month later she'd start school; we'd be told how well she did on her SATs, she was majoring in history with a minor in Chinese. By the time we spoke again we found that she made partner in a good law firm and just had her second child.

Meanwhile, in our reality, it was still October.

This hyper accelerated time we find ourselves in has fascinated me since I realized that it was summer when I woke up, drank some coffee, fooled around on the computer, then had to put on pants because suddenly the leaves had turned and it was fall. I went through various stages; anger, confusion, denial, more confusion, a bit more anger, confused denial, etc.

"Why won't they let a year die without bringing in a new one on the instant, can't they use birth control on time? I want an interregnum. The stupid years patter on with unrelenting feet, never stopping - rising to little monotonous peaks in our imaginations at festivals like New Year's and Easter and Christmas - But, goodness, why need they do it?" ~ John Dos Passos, 1917

"How long a minute is, depends on which side of the bathroom door you're on." ~ Zall's Second Law

"The time you think you're missing, misses you too." ~ Ymber Delecto

No one understands where the sudden flash of insight or inspiration comes from. A famous composer teaching a master class at a music school in Austria was asked by a student, "Maestro, in your third symphony, in the second movement, there is a theme that suddenly appears that may be the single most beautiful thing I've ever heard. How did you come to write that?"

The old man replied, "I remember, I was working in my office. It was a lovely spring day and, at noon I decided to take my lunch by the river. I found a spot along the bank, sat down, and unwrapped my sandwich. It was liverwurst on dark bread; I noticed that there was a stain on the wax paper in the shape of a dog. Some birds flew by overhead in the blue sky. I heard some children playing behind me. And then suddenly, the damn thing just popped into my head!"

"Let not the sands of time get in your lunch." ~ Author Unknown

This morning I was pouring my coffee. I was thinking I would make a cheese omelet. I heard my wife in the other room laughing at the dogs. I put the cup down on the counter and suddenly a theory popped into my head.

My wife came into the kitchen.

"I think I may have just figured out the reason time has been moving SOOOO fast," I said.

"Why?" she asked.

"I believe that the universe itself just can't wait for Bush to be gone."

She paused for a moment. "Makes sense to me," she said. "Good job."

"Thanks," I said, and drank my coffee.

I think it will be wonderful when things begin to move at normal speed again. A child's 6th birthday will come a year after her 5th, instead of a half hour after her 3rd. John Cage's "4'33" will last for four minutes and thirty-three seconds. But it will still feel longer.

There's nothing we can do about that one.

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