ELSA FRANCO AL GHASLAN
Published — Wednesday 7 November 2012
Last update 7 November 2012 5:52 am
I find the topic of “Time” highly fascinating. Let us start by asking “what” time actually is. A scientific definition says that it is a “continuum” which has no space, where events occur in apparently irreversible succession, from the past through the present to the future. It is also an interval separating two points in this continuum. But what is a continuum? It is said to be a series of “things” that blend into each other seamlessly so that it is impossible to tell where one ends and the next begins. If you think of a circle, for instance, you can have a clearer idea because here you cannot discern where the beginning and where the end of the circumference is. Is my pondering useless? It may be considered so, if we accept the fact that everybody seems to “know” what time is. Yes, we (you, I and everybody else) have the concept of time because we experience it through the acts we perform every day and through the changes that take place in our bodies. We are aware of starting an action, carrying it out and completing it. We see our hair grow and our skin become less perfect so we realize that our bodies are in continuous transformation.
But if you wish, as I do, to actually perceive the “essence” of time, you are lost because you have no way to “feel” it practically. You cannot distinguish one instant from the other as — according to what the definition states — they all blend into each other. You see the sequence of the seconds on your watch over and over and realize that nothing stays still, ever, and you have no means to stop this “slipping away” of instants that have been flowing since the Universe began and that will continue flowing till ….yes, till the “end of time.” You detect the seconds passing — one by one — on a stopwatch but you cannot perceive the minute hand moving forward on a common clock. The movement is too slow, and yet — all of a sudden — you realize that several minutes have elapsed.
The same happens with your body. You look at it in the mirror every single day but you are unable to “see” the changes that are taking place, slowly and inexorably. Then, suddenly, you realize that you have changed. Time has left its marks on your skin, in your bones, on your metabolism as a whole. You feel the same, yet you are different. Your spirit seems untouched, it is still young but your body has aged. Another consideration I often make is about the future, i.e. a time when we will not be here any more. It is intriguing, and a bit depressing, to think about how the world will still go on without us. Right now we are so involved in life (political and social events, family, work, parties, shopping, planning etc.) and… although one day we won’t be here, yet nothing will change in the economy of creation. Fights will still continue, human beings will keep on being good and bad, new cities will be built, civilizations will fall and rise…and we won’t be here to see it.
What to do with all this? Nothing, I’m afraid. That is how everything works and we can only be the powerless witnesses of such reality, “our reality.” On the other hand, becoming aware of the “necessity” of such situation, i.e. birth, decay, death — a process common to every single component of creation — can provide a sort of consolation toward the inevitable. How? We just need to bring ourselves to believe that there “must” be a reason (actually, a good reason) behind this “necessity.” Our mind, in fact, tells us that no-thing ever happens meaninglessly. If it did, everything – and I mean “everything” – would be a senseless, unconceivable happening that no rational mind (and sensitive soul) could ever accept. Therefore, let us use our “creative thinking” to pave a serene, accepting, peaceful path leading toward our inevitable future.
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