June 24, 2007
On TimeBy Miguel A. Guanipa
Henry Van Dyke once wrote this beautiful poem:
Although the gist of the poem seems to be about love, one may be forgiven if lured by its pathos to muse upon that mysterious parcel of eternity we call Time.
Time is indeed a very mysterious thing. Only we tend not to think of it as "mysterious" because somehow we have deluded ourselves into believing that since we have found a way to measure it (or at least we think we have), we are the ones who master it rather than it us. In fact its triviality appears self-evident to us.
But the relatively primitive instruments we use to measure Time only doom us to persist in the former delusion. They do not measure Time; they are merely finite scales which attempt to capture that which is truly an uncontainable marvel.
The moment we are able to quantitatively measure something we fancy ourselves in control of it. But Time is quite obstinate at our attempts to control it, no matter how much we think we do. And though Time is powerless, it has no earthly master. We may presume to be masters of Time, yet if anything, we regularly submit to it as its frantic slaves.
We speak of Time as if we owned it, and when it is squandered we rebuke ourselves for wasting it. But what we have wasted is not Time, or "our" Time. We are not the owners of Time, but rather Time owns us. Time remains ever impervious to how we spend our lives.
In a very real sense we are all living on "borrowed" Time indeed. In our vainglorious pretensions we tell ourselves that we will "make" Time, or that we have "run out" of Time, or that we must "give" others Time, or make good use of "our" Time, as if Time was some kind of private commodity. But we are not called to be lords of Time, or to presumptuously enthrone ourselves as its stewards.
When we think of ourselves as managing Time we place an unbearable burden on our shoulders. We are vain to think of ourselves as the managers of Time. We do not manage Time. Time is. We spend our lives in it as we see fit. But we do not ply Time to our wills.
Time does not heal wounds. Our wounds are healed, and sometimes fester within Time.
Time has no emotions. It does not give nor take anything away. It is not sensitive to our pain, nor mindful of our frailties.
Time will not cease because we suffer, nor will it tarry in our comfort. It will not linger through our bliss nor will it make haste in our angst. We laugh and cry, live and die, in it. It is not to be made accountable for these realities; it simply provides a season for them to transpire; and Time does not wait.
Thus we can not in truth say that Time has slowly ensued decay, or that it has flown by, or that Time has taken someone from us; Time is neither cruel nor kind. Time simply is.
As we do not own Time, then it is not ours to give or someone else's to steal from. Time merely provides the venue though which we are permitted to give of ourselves or take from others.
When we say that we have Time we speak beyond our understanding, because Time is not ours. We live and breathe in Time, but it does not belong to us. When we depart Time will not cease, but will continue. Thus it is better to say that for a season we have been allowed to be the passing heirs of Time, until the moment of our inevitable departure.
Time does not pass; we simply try to measure it. But Time always is. Time generously offers the breadth within which we think, love, grieve, live and die.
In fact we could say that, in spite of what goals we have envisioned that have yet to be accomplished, what designs we have laid out that have not yet come to fruition, or what objectives we have set that depended on it, Time flows at a very good pace. One could even say Time is perfect.