Friday, October 1, 2010

On Time

"Daddy?"
"Yeah?"
"Are we in the future now?"

My five-year-old posed this a couple weeks ago. He, my eight-year-old, and I talked about this some, how we were in the present, forever so, and now even his question of the future was relegated to the past. But our conclusions felt lacking.

I've written of Time before, a near obsession sometimes, and now its indifferent passage. It's convenient to consider Time as linear and that we live, conventionally, along a line from left to right. Marked on that line are our births and deaths and all the moments in between. We each have one of these lines, I suppose. And when plotted in space, our lines converge and diverge, cross and intersect, run parallel for a while, then end. Amy's line first intersected mine in January, 1999. They twisted around each other, and ran forward along the same path for just over 11 years before the point Time marked her death. Inexplicably Time drags me forward.

I imagine the act of marking the line with death creates a great cosmic event distorting and curving other nearby lines, bending them into new trajectories, akin to a powerful pulse of gravity. Like being sucked into a black hole, Time halted the moment I learned of Amy's death.

Time moves again, though requiring constant checking, calibration, and re-calibration. After shocks continue to distort our space and confuse Time. And because of this, as prompted by my younger son's question, how do we distinguish past, present, and future?

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