Tuesday, August 31, 2010


Time is a paradox. Not the concept (and I'm not talking about the mechanics of time), that is easy enough to grasp. The inexorable march of Time, that Time and tide wait for no man or inanimate object for that matter. The physical impact of Time and its inescapable effect on the material universe is a reality we come to comprehend and accept (to varying degrees) early on in life.

Rather, it is the impact or effect of Time on the intangible things of life such as relationships and love wherein Time is an enigma, a paradox. It is this enigmatic allure of Time that spawns the myriad phrases, idioms, nuggets of wisdom about Time that we are familiar with. For Man is always fascinated by what we cannot comprehend and we seek to define what we do not understand in the hope that by setting certain parameters, by making observations about the few applicable truisms; we are able to impose a clear definition on what is essentially undefinable. Much like the proverbial shoving of a round peg into a square hole.

Yet we draw what comfort we can from our paltry definitions, making the best we can of our observations of the duality of the impact of Time on the intangible things in life that are dear to us. What is Time? Seconds extending into minutes into hours into days into weeks, into years. A continuum of reality that goes ever forward, never backward (at least not yet). What is the effect of Time? There is no satisfactory, all conclusive or remotely acceptable answer.

Take the impact of Time on relationships. We have oft heard of the tongue-in-cheek phrase that "Time is a great healer but a terrible beautician". Time may be a salve to soothe and heal the raw wounds inflicted by an unpleasant breakup or altercation. A convenient amnesia fickle in its embrace or a carefully constructed defence elaborate in deception, tough on the exterior, brittle within. I would think a genuine healing and acceptance of sorts would only be achieved if the parties involved have come to terms with the reality of the situation, are fully apprised of all the relevant issues and reached a tacit understanding on their respective positions and the need to move on.

Yet Time can exacerbate the distance in a relationship or friendship, can deepen the misunderstanding, the animosity and ultimately the indifference. For issues left unresolved or untreated, the failure to discuss or communicate with a view towards sincerely resolving the issue(s) is like glossing over an untreated wound. Which slowly but surely festers and poisons the entire relationship. Time and tide wait for no man or relationship, friendship or otherwise, soured by unresolved issues, poisoned by insincerity, destroyed by apathy.

Time the great ravager of men's ambitions, destroyer of great monuments, grandiose cities erected by men to last through time. But Time has the last laugh as citadels crumble, civilizations collapse, their claim to grandeur and all memory lost with the shifting sands of Time. Time that exalts, propagates and celebrates the greatness of individuals, concepts, ideas and religion. Time that deifies, reveres and exalts the formerly mundane.

Time is a fickle master that promises much but guarantees nothing. Time's only predictability is its very existence and relentless onslaught. Still we live our lives ordered by Time, resigned to its governance, cognizant of its paradoxical effects, fascinated by the enigma. As Dion Boucicault aptly noted, "Men talk of killing Time, while Time quietly kills them." Indeed, the same way Time quietly kills relationships plagued by unresolved issues compounded by a lack of sincere communication and poisoned by indifference.

Widor's Toccata from Symphony No 5 has always been to me akin to what I would imagine the relentless flow of time to sound like. This is one of the better versions. Like a vivacious burbling stream, constantly surging ahead, steady and triumphant. After all, it is Time and time is on its side.

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