Time Again

"Time conquered Time. . . Sometimes Time crept slowly onwards like an exhausted tortoise. Sometimes it tore through life like a vulture in search of prey. Time took no notice of death or life, decay or growth, and love, hate or jealousy. It ignored all those things which are so important to us that we forget time."

From the film, Antonia's Line

Time flows in its illusionary way, and usually we are content to sense it as a straight line ordered in the way of clocks. Each minute is 60 seconds. Each hour is sixty minutes. 10:37 always follows 10:36. But time is a human conception, a product of our memory and imagination. What is real is what is right now.

For the next several sequences of present moments, go beyond your usual perception of Time. Loosen up your conception of it. Be aware of yourself now sitting in this room at this moment. Notice your experience of time passing. At this moment notice your awareness. At this moment, now notice your awareness again. Again sample your awareness in the moment and appreciate that your previous awareness is now a memory. Spend some time staying with the awareness of the present moment. See how it flows. No matter how fast you sample it, each moment of awareness is a new moment. Time is passing as if your consciousness were the bow of a boat moving through water and memory is the wake of your awareness.

Think to yesterday. How much of it did you ignore? How much have you forgotten? Those moments are gone just like the one a second ago, just like the ones a year ago, and a millennium ago. The past is past, and yet it has made you what you are today. The ancestors and force of events in their lives that have come together to make you are mostly forgotten. Each of your thousands of ancestors had their special moments; their moments of pain and joy. All that is past and gone, and we can but pause to reflect and give thanks for their lives. We can thank them for their gifts and forgive them their faults. We can accept their heritage and make the best of it. Pause awhile and think of that wavy line of your ancestry. See if you can feel something of the awesome vastness of your ancestral past. Give thanks for the good that has come down from the past. Release yourself from any guilt or blame that may have come down to you from the misdeeds of your ancestors.

We know that, as those before us left their impressions on our life, we will leave an impression on life to come. We cannot know what that impression will be, but we can dedicate ourselves to living a life of merit, one that will bring goodness to us and to those who follow us.

Pause awhile and reflect on the future. Sense the web of future events drawing together moved by imponderable influences in this present moment. Imagine that you can see the shadows of future events rising and falling like flickering flames fueled by the moment by moment actions of innumerable beings. Probabilities of events rise and fall with our actions. Consequences ripple out from our every activity. Some big. Some small. Some short acting. Some long lasting. We dance in this play of action and non-action supported by the billions of events that lead to this moment and the billions of events that lead away from it. Create in your mind a sense of continuity with the web of time. Make past, present and future into a whole. Sense the flow in this moment.

In the act of living we may forget Time. Time may creep or it may tear by. Always the wheel keeps turning. We cannot know the future precisely, but we can enjoy the adventure of its unfoldment. We can take time to reflect, so that we act carefully and wisely. We can shape a better world by giving more love.

"Look not mournfully into the Past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the Present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy Future, without fear."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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© 2002 Tom Barrett