I’m thinking today about time and whether the past exists, what its meaning is, and if it’s ever over.
Today is the wedding anniversary of two couples very special to me. Some very beloved family members celebrate 36 years of marriage today. And two dear friends who would be married were gay marriage legal in Illinois, celebrate 20 years together today.
It’s also been a year since a relationship I had been in ended.
And yesterday marked the passing of my nephew Paul (through marriage) who died in a diving accident 7 years ago.
The events being marked all occurred in the past – from a year ago to 36 years. We celebrate some (anniversaries, birthdays), commemorate others (the anniversary of a death – often privately remembered). And some we may wish to forget, but (at least if you’re like me) our souls & spirits remember for us nonetheless.
We seemingly float or rush down the river of time, some parts being rapids (and feeling just as giddy or dangerous), some meandering, some seemingly at a standstill. It appears as though the river of time moves us past the riverbanks (people, places, events in our lives) and on to the next.
Is that true?
And it seems like once you’ve passed by that you’re done and won’t be going back.
So what is memory? And what is time? And is the past really passed? Is it gone? Does it have meaning?
People make their lifetime’s work out of being archaeologists of the effects of the past on our present being (therapists). And yet, other than obvious trauma I think we mostly assume that the past is indeed passed and has no impact on our now.
And yet I think it affects everything – from the quite mundane to the profound. In conscious and unconscious ways.
When I was young and quite wild I got crazy drunk-sick-oh-I-think-I’ll-just-die-now from drinking Ouzo, the greek liqueur. It’s been decades now and I no longer drink. But if I’m at a Greek restaurant and someone near me gets Ouzo just that aroma makes me physically gag and want to head for the exits. Memory. And kind of mundane, yes? Like driving the long way because of a detour that is no longer there – it’s a habit, a memory, that once served us and is now superfluous.
So the mystery of what IS time really, has intrigued me and I’ve written a post What is Time before.
But what I’m wondering this morning, musing on the anniversaries (happy and not) is the question of whether the past is ever really passed. How do you know when it’s over? I go back to the philosopher-hero of my youth, Yogi Berra “It ain’t over til it’s over.”
Because Paul visited me recently – just a wisp of light, a sense of movement, but it felt like a little “hello there.” I catch glimpses, too, of that young bearded hippie artist type who married my sister, even though he’s a clean-shaven, businessman and grandfather now – I can still see that hopeful wild boy.
The seemingly ephemeral love affair I was gifted with last year – so profound and yet brief – affects me still.
You know how in dreams you’re at a party and there are people there from all different eras of your life and it’s like your 9-year-old self is connecting with your childhood best friend while your businesswoman self chats with a colleague and your wild hippie girl self is pounding down a few beers with some chums and it’s all now and all at the same time? I wonder if THAT is more the truth and this mundane world into which I must shortly dive (work, work, work!) is more the dream.
What do you think? Is it ever really over? Is time real?