We don’t actively notice the passing of time.
By the time we chat away another few sentences in a dialogue, or read another page, or drive to the next red light, what was present is already past.
By the time we reflect on on what we had just done, the sense of being present, is already past.
The passing of our moments happens like the rushing of cars in the opposite direction on a highway. While we, in our bodies, in our vehicles, are not static in the moment, but moving forward on the thoroughfare of life.
There are a myriad of suggestions, philosophies, and lessons aimed at getting us to be “present” or to slow things down so that we can appreciate the moment. But in actuality all of our moments are here and then gone instantly. Trying to hold onto to a present moment is like trying to determine all specifics of a front license plate on a car going in the opposite direction on the freeway, when both vehicles are moving eighty miles an hour. You may catch the color, but never all of the details. The Flaming Lips may have said it best in their song Ego Tripping at the Gates of Dawn, “I was waiting on a moment, but the moment never came. All the billion other moments, were just slipping all away.”
Why then are we so obsessed with trying to harness a moment? We might as well be like George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life and try to lasso the moon! Talk about trying to accomplish the impossible, neither lassoing nor holding on the a single moment are realistic, nor possible!
Is it about control? Are we desperately trying to slow things down so much, that we feel that we can master a moment. Can we possess a second? Or are we trying to catch sand in a sieve?
We know that we can’t exist in a future state; we can’t be two exits down the highway without the miles in between. So is the journey to that exit about noticing every detail along the way. Are all points in between that important or significant? Or are each as passing and fleeting as the last? Once we get to that exit, isn’t there somewhere else we need to go?
Why do we need our gauge of time? If being in the present is best, why do we need the passage of time to help things along. “Things will get better in time.” “If only I have more time, I could get this or that done.” Mick Jagger sings, “Tiiiiime, is on your side, yes it is!” Is it? Do we need a measurement of its passing, if we can never have a moment?
Is it our benchmark for recovery? Do we need to be aware of the flow of time for “time to heal all wounds?” Must we be aware of passing days and weeks for a broken heart to mend, or for a gash on your leg to repair? What about the sad character Leonard in the movie Memento who laments, “how can I heal, if I can’t feel time?”
If we can never truly be in the present, and the past is gone, and the future out of reach, where are we?
What are we?
And if there is no true present, when are we?