Time is a funny thing. It is also, quite often, the measure of all other things. It can hold you in place, preventing you from going forward; and yet, it has been known too to have healing powers. Time can be both friend and foe. However, we often manipulate its role forcing it to be in more places at once than it can truly stand to be, and we ask it to be our ally in the wars we wage. It would also appear as though time is without a proper home. Torn between so many, time can often tire. And, it can, in fact, stop.
One of the greatest battles we call time to fight is the one we have started between the past, the present and the future. It is an unfair task we bestow upon time: build the appropriate bridges between them create fluidity between them, separate them…But, we do it nonetheless. We should not try to force time to choose between the past, present and future. Each has its own collection of tantalizing qualities; each is as tempting as the other.
The past has the warmth and bitterness of a previous life or an ex-lover. Its greatest gift to offer is the comfort of familiarity. The mere thought of it can be overwhelmingly tempting. The past knows all of your secrets and fears, remembers your failures. It remembers the happy times too, but will never let you forget the things you thought you already had. It will always bear that hint of unpleasant reminder. Sometimes it can simply be a bitter pill to swallow.
Other times it feels so good to slip back into the past, to feel something you know, because to feel something new can be altogether unimaginable. This is, of course, understandable and it is something most of us have done. But, in no way does it make it any less damaging. We cling to the past because that bond is under our control. We like the feeling of power. It makes us feel stable and sure of ourselves, because it is something we have previously explored.
The past will not let you go. You must be the one to sever that connection. If not, it will linger quietly, like a silent, satisfied mistress. It will become a place you indulge yourself in, high on emotion; then, you will find you go there too often in search of answers. But, be careful; your mistress will not stay silent and satisfied forever. One day she may want more. One day she just might explode in a fit of rage and set free all your secrets.
It can be painfully hard to let go of the past. It should linger in fond memory, like a smell you catch on the wind, the kind that can make you stop and think, then smile as you carry on moving forward.
The present is fresh and new, waiting for and inviting exploration. It is also intimidating and full of things we have yet to understand. But we will, as we are blessed with hindsight (be thankful for that!). The present is exciting, but usually requires most of time’s attention. As well it should. They are meant for each other and share an incredibly complex and beautiful relationship. Full of highs and lows, surprises, lessons, and so many other still undiscovered situations, emotions and experiences, it encourages growth through infinite variety and constant struggle.
The present can be hard to keep up with, often leaving you with a sense of being behind. It also has a way of causing us to compare ourselves with others. You almost feel compelled to change, to evolve, and at such a rapid speed that you lose sight of everything. It can be dizzying. And, can often make you feel not good enough, leaving you to second guess yourself. This, unfortunately, is something we have all done, and, in some strange way, it appears to be a naturally human thing to do. But, it is not without its lesson. There is a wee bit of something to take away. Or, a lot can be gained. There is no need for comparison. The present stays with you; it moves along beside you as you carry on, and it is yours.
You will change and grow. You will learn and experience new things with the present. It will not abandon you; you simply must remember to always bring it along. It wants to share everything with you, and you need it in order to gain any kind of perspective in the future.
More people need to enjoy where they are, when they are there, and spend less time thinking about it, where it may lead us. All of us need to slow down. We’re all in too much of a hurry. So much so, we have become the humans in a race rather than the human race, and, whether you are an active participant or not, you will come to find yourself hurrying along in some strange competition. Even if you think you’ve missed the starting gun there always seems to be an opportunity to join in. But, what happens if you don’t want to run? What if you don’t like it? Besides, it appears to me that all this racing is to get to doing nothing. Half of the world seems to have bought into some kind of “Freedom 35” plan. I mean, seriously, who really wants to say, “I’m 36; I’ve been retired for over a year”? Come on. What are you going to have truly accomplished? All of us want, and many of us need, more free time, time to do what we want, but too many of us are in such a rush to get there that we miss everything along the way.
If we are in a race (more like an infinite marathon!) there are, of course, pit stops along the way. Too many people lose sight of them, forget where they are, and some pass them by without as much as a glance. Take the breaks when you need them, when it seems the most fitting, when you have the most to gain. Life too is structured the same for similar reasons. It is important to constantly progress, but it is equally so to relish experiences. It is okay to put your growth in some things on hold and put a greater focus on others, because that is your optimum time to gain. Sometimes it is necessary to do that and other times it happens outside of your control. Just because you trip, fall and break your ankle doesn’t mean you have to quit the race. Take the time to properly heal before you jump back in, and the present can be the perfect place to do that. Do not rush yourself or allow others to convince you to hurry. If you are still limping, and have not truly mended, that pain will linger, at times unnoticed, but it will always be there.
You will bump into the future far faster than you think, and yet, the present will remain at your side. It is a wonderful bond meant to be treasured. There is nothing else like it. It can be cruel, critical and grossly unfair, but it is also honest, rewarding and forgiving. The present introduces painfully, frustrating situations and challenges that seem to appear in multitude. But it will not leave you alone to suffer so. It is your connection to the future, and will shine the light of hope that only the future can have when you least expect it, and just when you’ve decided that it would never come.
The future is inevitable. It is what the present longs to become, because, quite simply, that is what it strives for; it is what we all strive for, to make the future the present. And, that is what both you and it need. The future can be the place to accomplish goals, celebrate achievements. A safe place to look back and reflect; the future has more to offer than you may think. But it can also be unstable; however, it is its mystery that makes it so appealing.
Because it is unknown, the future is brimming with potential and waiting for us to fulfill it. We must help the present make this crucial transition, for it will in turn help us. The future is also a very personal thing. It is as individual as the person who seeks its unknown. You alone make the decisions to determine that outcome, just make sure they are wholeheartedly your own.
Some say time heals all wounds. I do not believe this. I do believe, however, that time has the power to help us heal. It has the ability to give us perspective and should we choose to accept we can, in fact, heal ourselves. Time has a way of motivating us, whether by shaming us, because we have let too much slip away, or by scaring us into thinking there is simply not enough. What is important to understand is that it is inevitably you, and you alone, who possess the ability to allow yourself to heal and be healed.
It would appear that time is not permanent fixture anywhere; it would also appear that time is homeless. A loner of sorts, who aimlessly wanders around, so torn it often feels as though it slows, creeps to a crawl. I have often wondered if that’s because it is unsure of exactly what to do next. Maybe it needs, like we all do sometimes, a little encouragement. In other instances it seems time is in a hurry, trying to catch up, as if somehow it fell behind. We try so hard to stop time; thinking it will somehow make the moment last longer, better. This is not always so. There are certain moments in life that simply need to exist as they happen. Let time work its own magic; allow it to unfold as it sees fit. Let it roam. Do not try to pin it down. Do not try to keep it. It will always be there, it will always exist. It may not be able to dedicate itself to you entirely, every time you meet, but it will always visit.
Sometimes I wonder if we have created “time” as a means of charting our accomplishments, and failures, in order to meet life’s supposed deadlines. If we look at it this way it is easy to see why people feel out of place and lagging behind. Again, this will only lead you down the path of comparison. And, it is such rugged terrain, you are almost certain to hurt yourself. Perhaps, we should be paying more attention to the road we travel en route to these accomplishments (or “markers”) and less on how long it takes to get to wherever we’re going. Why not apply some of what we have learned along the way? I guess, in order to that, one would have to actually take a moment to stop and actually pay attention long enough to gain some kind of perspective, knowledge. Too many of us bypass life’s lessons, and, in general, experiences, all in an effort to get ahead; however, without realizing it, we are actually going to finish behind those who did stop. Remember the story of the tortoise and the hare? Need I say more?
Some of the very first and simplest concepts we learn are the most important, because we can build on the foundations they establish and they are usually applicable in situations throughout our entire lives. Do no akin your own personal evolution to the flowing of time. It comes and goes; time can be fleeting. Be steadfast and constant. Be natural and organic. We are each so different that there can be no formula, no points to plot on a graph, to insure we all arrive at the same destination, at the same time. Every flower blooms when it is ready…never sooner. You will know when you’re ready, so some of the guesswork is gone. In the meantime, grow strong and soak up all you can, before you bloom. Do not rush and force yourself to open up too soon. Do that and you’ll find yourself alone, and when the others finally come to join, it is already your time to go.