Time is a foreigner to me.
A dark-eyed beauty who blinks seductively, hypnotically, then slips away before I can grasp it or hold onto it, leaving just the sense of Time having been and gone in a teasing, faintly mocking, clocking, tick-tocking encounter.
No wonder I’m so often just a little late (versus the precise alignment of metal lines on a disc of numbers, or liquid crystals in a set of tiny square window frames set under a glass top): I’m forever only getting the gist of Time’s language, not the detail.
Time is a foreign language to me.
I fail to understand it, no matter how loudly or slowly it continues to repeat its incessant, strident labelling of my days and nights. I have tried. I have watched Time passing, tried to feel its pulse, tried to assimilate the system by which my culture (European, for now) insists it should be measured. And I have failed. Because I cannot grasp it or sense it in any useful way, when utilising this abstract conceptualisation of time.
Time is an abstraction to me.
Abstract concepts of Time are a very Western thing. This First World determination to parcel up and delineate something as ancient and infinite as Time has been a kind of control freakery bordering on hysteria. Or arrogance. …As bad as climbing mountains “because they are there”, “conquering” them, with a view to making of the word ‘summit’ a verb (about a human climber) rather than a noun (about an upcrop of this glorious planet)… but that’s another blog, so I’d best not deviate. Not for a bit, anyway. (note the unspecific time indicator, there, and don’t even get me started on the use of ‘summit’ as a noun indicating a clutch of over-privileged, dangerously empowered Stale Pale Males taking private jets to a golf-course-sized monoculture of well-irrigated lawn with attendant 7-star facilities in the middle of a salty atoll or parched desert… breathe, Daisy, breathe!)
Time is a dark wonder to me.
Many simpler cultures (usually in a tribal or pristine state, unsullied by our greedy ‘modern’ handprints that start as a wave and turn into a slap) see time in a totally reversed way to the First World countries. They will tell you that the future is behind you, not in front of you. This took me a while to grasp, but once I did, I was amazed – and delighted – at how this concept of Time made total sense.
Imagine being on a train, one of those old-fashioned ones which hurtled startled Victorians across ‘new’ (to them) continents at a speed almost suffocating (to them). Imagine you’re sat at the back of the train, looking out through that little windowed door on the end which has a railing and steps, and that you’re watching the landscape flinging itself into your field of vision, coming from behind you and to your sides, and then receding away in front of you. Well, that view is Time to many so-called ‘primitive’ peoples: Time is invisible, unknowable when it is the future; but visible (though disappearing fast) when it is in the present; and invisible (though able to be remembered) when it is in the past. If I’ve confused you, just remember that to say that you are travelling backwards through Time, not forwards, is merely a matter of differing social semantics: Time cannot be defined in relation to your physical location.
Time is out of my control.
That ‘travelling in reverse’ is one pretty important distinction, though. Humans should not think they can ever have a hope of seeing the future or controlling it, is what that ‘primitive’ view seems to suggest. Seeing Time in this way is a useful means of sweeping away the natural arrogance of assumed control, and to relax about the stressful impossibility of ever arriving ‘on time’: on whose time, exactly? And do people really have nothing better to do than fume, if the person for whom they wait is ten minutes ‘late’ in relation to their measuring of The Time? Could they not reverse their perception, and see that ten minutes as a gift? A precious little longer to engage in the present, to wonder at the Here and Now, to (gasp!) daydream and ‘do nothing’ but look. “Time to stand and stare…”
Time is a cruel enslavement.
And who decided, and why, that the best way to divide up each terrestrial spin was into 24 chunks (why not 25? or 10? or 3?) , then 60 minutes (which weren’t even measurable with any certainty until relatively recently in human history), then seconds and micro-seconds and milli-seconds and nano- and and and… oh spare me, will we never break our thirst for self-flagellating in this way? It is like a tyranny of technology: if we measure in those tiny segments, we have to live at that pace. No wonder life has become so dizzyingly frenetic in the ‘modernised’ world.
Time is, was, and always will be.
I sense midnight at my heels, creeping around my feet to scuttle off into shadowy depths ahead of me. I feel rather than hear it ‘strike’. Hurtling backwards into my future on that train, there are obscuring swirling smuts and steam all around. I realise that Time is indeed breathing down my neck. How appropriate, then, that we to attempt to locate and pin down Time using the word ‘tense’.
All photographs (& effects) by Daisy. No reproduction without permission, please.