Thursday, January 13, 2011
And If Not Now, When?
~ The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
Time is a funny thing. A fourth dimension that either lasts for ages or speeds by us in a few twitches of a cat’s tail. We take it for granted when it’s plentiful and hoard it when it’s not, guarding each precious second like some tangible nugget that we can use to haggle with the gods.
“I’ll do this right now, and get it out of the way, and that way I’ll have more time to do something else, later on.” Of course, later on may never come. Or something else may happen and then all that careful planning goes out the window. Carpe diem, as they say.
According to Wikipedia:
In Horace, the phrase is part of the longer Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero – "Seize the Day, putting as little trust as possible in the future", and the ode says that the future is unforeseen, and that instead one should scale back one's hopes to a brief future, and drink one's wine.
Such a fine line between living moment to moment and planning for the future.
I ran into this post from a fellow author yesterday and it struck me rather hard, hence the moroseness of this post. I have not read her work, though I will do so now. It seems the least I can do, after all.
I will admit I think about what it would be like for myself in this position sometimes. My mother died of cancer, as did her mother. (Both of them before age 55. Both of them from lung cancer.) This fact looms over me like some wretched pendulum. I feel like I'm just waiting for it to swing back one day with my own diagnosis of no return.
In this case, it seems as though time becomes a trickster, taunting us with a terrible choice of trying to hold on for every last second allowed to us in return for what might very well be a painful end. I watched it happen with my parents; all that careful planning they had mapped out for their future withered and died in a matter of months.
It shadows me and I can't help but wonder how terrible it must be to stare over the brink of the abyss and realize that time is up. There are no more bargains. As a writer, it's distressing on a completely different level. What would I do with all those stories I want to tell? Internally it's sort of incomprehensible to realize that I may not have the chance to get it all out there.
It's part of the reason why I write now, I think. Call it an urge to leave some facet of my existence behind. Photos and memories fade, but words stay the same, no matter how many times they are read.
I know for myself that the less concerned I am with time, the less it affects me. It’s actually sort of refreshing to have the battery in my watch die. For a few brief days I constantly find myself staring at my empty wrist and eventually I stop looking at it at all. And the days *do* seem to slow down for a bit, though eventually I’ll get a new battery and things start back up again.
I suppose I could just stop wearing one all together, but it is my mother’s watch and I’m not ready to give that up just yet, though the memories slide through my fingers like water through a sieve.
But that's all I've got.