I have a really bad relationship with time, it is always ominously behind me. Ahead of me too.
I have the tendency of getting bored of whatever I am going through really fast, making me a rather transient person. I need to keep moving forward and on and on. The next season, the next chapter. However, I, almost contradictingly, find myself constantly believing that I have also arrived: I am here, where I was supposed to be. A sense of destiny, or providence, or what-have-you, makes the past easy to deal with, while constantly pushing me forward. But, if I’ve arrived, is this all there was? There has to be more. I am as much moved by discontentment as by curiosity, but chasing wind is extremely tiring.
Every now and then I look back and realize that in my constant movement, many people were left behind. Relationships of all sorts disintegrate with the wind as life pushes me forward, and I can’t carry my world with me. It agonizes me. It’s a hard reality that can lead to a lot of suffering if you try to fight the flow of time and hold on to the past tightly, but to me, what it damages most is my present: “This too, shall pass” is great when life is tough, but it is also terrifying when things are going well.
Nonetheless, it is true.
The picture in this post is a cut from the Nine Dragons by Chen Rong, an old Chinese artist. The Dragon, from what I have learned, is a symbol of the generative power of the universe, of existence and nonexistence themselves: it rises up from the clouds and dissolves back in them, it dies and then it is born again and it’s a spectacle of flowing sky and clouds and thunder. Big-bangs and black holes. Breathtaking. It is the seed sprouting and rising up as a great tree that touches heaven and dies again. It’s the ongoing cycle of life. It’s the Tao. It’s the Logos. The reason and flow behind and through the universe, in which we move and have our being.
I have been reading different kinds of Buddhist texts, and I have recently started reading the Tao Te Ching (aka Laozi), the main text of Taoism. These philosophies are largely about finding peace within, which I have deep need of. I am far from calling myself knowledgeable in any of these traditions, but they have been priceless in informing my dealing with life.
There’s this notion of freeing yourself from attachment, along with the notion of understanding that we are all part of the whole. There is a great cycle in life in which we are all part of, and we are all part of each other. There is a flow, and in flowing along with life – rather than trying to swim against the tide – we can learn to accept things as they are rather than try to play God and obsess with what we think should be. To complain, or celebrate, about how life should be, is lack of humility before the great mystery of everything: silence is a much rather appropriate response. To hold tight is not only to take what is not ours, but also to forget that all things are ours.
The funny thing about time is that, in a way, it doesn’t exist either.
All I really have is now.