At the time of this writing there are little more then a scant 24 hours remaining of the year 2017 (good riddance). Time is running out or down or whatever it is time does. And there is the problem. If I think about time in the sense of “time and space” and all that quantum physics stuff, I become befuddled and my brain goes somewhat blank as when I try to recall the name of the actor (just had to look him up, which is cheating), James Mason. This whole Big Bang Theory requires a lot from those adhering to its tenets, in that one is eventually bound to contemplate what came before The Bang? What came before time? Give me a break, I can’t figure out how a thermos keeps some things hot and some things cold.
Can there have really ever been nothing? And isn’t nothing something? In Greek creation mythology, it is said, “In the beginning there was chaos.” Now there’s something I can relate to. Chaos is something I can work with; you make anything out of all that swirling matter: mountains, music, cupcakes, the carbon engine, even ducks.
The bible gets a bit tricky, stating, “In the beginning there was the word, and the word was with God and the word was God.” Personally, I find the sentence a little confusing. Is God saying the word or is the word just humming along by itself? But a word’s not a bad beginning; one can build on a word, sort of like scrabble. It’s the god part that gets complicated because then you have to acknowledge the deity and finally ask what was God doing before the beginning? Creating other universes and experimenting with different beginnings as if thinking, “In the beginning there were cats….no, there was banjo music. No, nothing but green jello. No, deserts. No, there were ice rinks.” It could take a lot of time and effort to get it right.
Finally, what the heck is time anyway and doesn’t it only exist and affect things that change or grow or die? Does time run on some parallel levels with the past and present and future existing simultaneously? Am I somewhere out there, still at The Beatles concert in 1964 screaming John’s name? And, cannot my future, hopefully wiser self, monitor my present and whisper sound advice such as, “Don’t even think of buying the black faux leather skirt, you’re never going to wear it,” or “Invest in sneakers. You’ll make a killing in the market; athletic shoes are going to be big,” or “Back away from another glass of wine.” Ah, but would I listen…?
Sometimes, time goes so fast that it does really seem to blur, like paintings where the pigment isn’t quite dry and runs a bit. This is especially apt to happen for me at Christmastime. The past month is kaleidoscopic with but moments that shine through with clarity, frozen for a brief, silver second. I grasp at those moments, they are all I am left with, that and the bills. Like a dish of colored hard candy some are better then others. I here choose a few to share.
The night we ordered the last pair of hard-to-come-by shoes online for our daughter and then realized the size of shoes in the UK is larger, , not smaller, than US sizes. I had to stay awake until it was morning in England to cancel the order.
The relief of finding a gift I had misplaced, under the bed and already wrapped.
The beatific yet human look of a young girl with braces on her teeth, playing an angel in a Nativity pageant.
Dickens’ words, always Dickens’ words.
Picking up Miranda coming home from college at a downtown bus terminal one midnight in December.
Finding the bunny slippers in the right size. The night the tree fell over. Seeing a wild bunny running free. The sea, opalescent at the bottom of Topanga. Snow Night at Pine Tree Circle one more time. The sorrow of learning local photographer, Tony Verebes, died.
Being so tired and overwhelmed one day at Trader Joe’s I’m beyond rational thought.
The cat’s gleaming eyes staring deeply into the tree, as if contemplating something only a cat could know.
Egg nog, friends in our home, my brothers voice.
Our son Riley standing at the bedroom door, early Christmas morning covered in poison oak, announcing, “Christmas is cancelled!”
These are memories from the recent past and I can trace through them like a map to the present where I now sit, still in my robe on the first day of the new year in our gently darkening living room. The Beleaguered Husband has nodded off on the couch while watching a football game. Outside the light is fading in the Topanga sky of 2018, streaked softly with pink and orange whispers, like a promise. It is the first moment of peace I have known and it does not go unappreciated.
“Where are the dry towels? We don’t have any dry towels!” commands the poxed and itchy son disturbing my reverie. “And I need more calamine lotion.”
“We’ll get some tomorrow,” I assure him, in that Mommy voice and I am suddenly propelled into the future, into tomorrow.
While hanging a new calendar, I am reminded of the construct that presents the entire history of earth as if it were but one year. It places the arrival of humans on this planet late in the game, in fact, not until the very last day, December 31. So, in that one day, we have come out from our caves, all the way into the light of YouTube. Unfortunately, we have put down our clubs but taken up nuclear arms.
As to our future, I’m sure, like all those “Twilight Zones” warned us, we will become some human-tech-droid creature, traveling to colonize other planets because one world is not enough to mess up. Or, maybe, we will—please, someway, somehow—evolve, ever growing in kindness and wisdom and love, to be a shining part of an ever-expanding universe, while there’s still time.
And, then, how God will smile to have gotten it right.
Happy New Year!