The same ‘TIME’, but through a different eye

A word which boasts of a whopping twenty – seven different meanings in Merriam Webster‘s lexicon – a word which science has failed to bind within the geometrical constrains of the English language. The elusive word in context here is ‘TIME’ – an enigma in itself. My objective here is not to add to the existing list of definitions and hence, contribute to the confusion, but to analyse, perhaps visualize and eventually attempt to realize what time actually is. I solemnly confess that my approach is neither inspired by Hawkings’ perspective, nor is it Newtonian in method – but is rather oriented towards the Shakespearan, the Freudian, or maybe even the Kafkaesque. Philosophers & scientists both have understood and believed that time is stretchable – indeed, it stretches from the alpha to the omega. It stretches from the severing of the umbilical cord of a new-born to the time when he has his ‘time’ up in this mortal world – and in between, it encapsulate joy, sorrow, anger, jealously, sacrifice, love, and every other emotion humanly possible.

There is a time to be born and there is a time to die and in between is the time to shape life. We may not have much of a say as far as the former two are concerned, but the latter is what we have in our hands. That is why it takes a ‘lifetime’ to make something of life itself – a perpetual work-in-progress! Here, I am suddenly reminded of John Quincy Adams’ ‘The hour Glass’:- “Alas! How swift the moments fly! How flash the years along! Scarce here, yet gone already by, The burden of a song, See childhood, youth and manhood pass, And age with furrowed brow; Time was – Time shall be – drain the glass – But where in time is now?”

Toru Dutt, in her much-acclaimed poem, ‘Our Casuarina Tree’, personifies Time as a thief. It silently creeps up to us and steals our loved ones, only to never give them back. But it is the same time that heals wounds that it causes. How often do we hear, “Give it some time and you‘ll be alright again!”. At some point in life we have all faced a crisis, and witnessed the words being mouthed to us with all due sympathies, and coming out of the afore-mentioned ‘it’, we have all acknowledged that the words in the oft-quoted clichéd sentence run much deeper than the way they sound.

Next, as we adjust the eye-piece of the telescope and zoom in closer on our lives, we stumble upon how time creates strife in relationships. A dedicated mother is heartbroken when she asks her headstrong teenage child to run an errand, for she is almost immediately greeted by a nonchalant, “I don’t have ‘time’ for it Ma!”.Lovers part ways as the spouse or the fiancée does not have enough ‘time’ to investing the relationship. It is amazing to observe that years ago William Penn had voiced, “Time is what we want the most, but use the worst”. It is only when we are done hurting others do we realize what blunt d***hes we have been. All are prayers then being to sound like, “God, if only I had ……..” – but almost immediately life repartees and teaches us an invaluable lesson – You can do whatever you want to now, but can never go back and do it again differently. Elizabeth Allen in her ‘Rock me to sleep’had earnestly wished, “Backward turn backward, O Time in your flight, Make me child again just for to – night!”. But alas all such whims and fancies have remained confined to the pages of poetry books, and are yet to see the light of day. Time has always been a one-way street and so far Physics has not given us much hope to believe that it is going to be something different anytime soon.

There is a time to speak up, and a time to remain silent. A time to learn and a time to teach. A time to listen and a time to be heard. A time to lose and a time to gain. And for all these things, the time is NOW! And depending upon what we make of ‘now’ do we have a missed opportunity, a lucky break, or a beautiful serendipity. As my soliloquy draws to a close, and I ruminate about the seconds which had transformed into minutes, which in turn, had metamorphosed into hours, and had flown by me in the bygone years, nothing makes more sense than the celebrated lines from Pink Floyd’s psychedelic composition ‘Time’ –

“Tired of lying in the sunshine

Staying home to watch the rain

You are young and life is long

And there is a time to kill today.

And then are day you find Ten years have got behind you

No one told you when to run

You missed the starting gun.”