Time, time, time, See what’s become of me, While I look around, For my possibility – Paul Simon’s A Hazy Shade of Winter
For sincere advice and the correct time, call any number at random after 3 a.m. – Comedian Steve Martin
In the metaphysics of Hindu philosophy, we are all eternal beings residing in a temporal shell, a body, if you like. And we go on forever because we are eternal.
It’s even grounded in science: the first law of thermodynamics posits that energy cannot be created or destroyed. I can hear the sceptics: who says it’s energy?
The counter is obvious: who says it’s not?
If true, then time as we know it, only exists here. It is a man-made construct and only has relevance here on Earth. Shorn of dogma and other doctrinal trappings, I suspect most religions point to the same thing. No offence intended all round as this isn’t meant to be a spiritual discourse. Consider it a preamble to a rueful ramble through the temporal bramble.
My point: if time is a man-made construct and completely irrelevant to our immortal spirit, couldn’t the powers-that-be have made that clear when we were growing up?
Do you remember being woken up at the crack of dawn to go to school? That’s when good men of reason realise that the amount of sleep needed by an average person is always five minutes more.
Everything was relative when we were young: the school hours felt interminable, while the holidays whizzed by.
Over time, the arguments changed occasionally.
I remember whining that if I’d only had an hour more during my Biochemistry lab finals – already going on eight hours! – I’d have aced it. It was unadulterated poppycock, of course, but All Was Vanity then.
During high school, life seemed perpetually stuck in the slow lane: disconcerting during a time of rampaging hormones and dreams of greatness.
I couldn’t wait to get out and know women, to grasp life by the scruff of its neck, to understand what it meant when they said the world’s your oyster.
All too suddenly, life’s needle dropped into its fast forward groove and I was like beamed-up, transforming from callow, if pimply, boy to hairy man: a voter, a tax-payer, a husband, a father.
Life had grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, and I’d been found wanting. I don’t know how I went from adik (younger brother) to abang (older brother), and all-too-suddenly, Uncle. I guess Grandpop must be waiting around the corner.
Time marches on but they should have warned us it would be across our faces. In relative terms, things are more like they are now than they have ever been before. Now we can finally understand what Lucy observed in Peanuts: “The secret of life is to hang around long enough to get used to it.”
If you think about it, life is ironic. The philosopher Kierkegaard must have thought so as well because he observed that “while life was best understood backwards, it had to be lived forwards.” I suppose that’s what people mean when they talk about “age bringing a certain perspective.”
Well, I still haven’t got it and I wish it would hurry up and tell me. I mean, they say time is a great teacher and all, but it has a certain downside.
It kills off all its pupils.