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  • Writer's pictureJeff Monday

The Riptide of Time

Authors like to play around with time. Time travel. Past lives. Future dreams. Even a fairly straightforward narrative still massages time. Time jumps. Flashbacks. Co-current events. I think that most of us have an uneasy relationship with time.

On the one hand, it seems easy. Tick tock. tick tock. The clock never stops. We know the sun comes up, moves across the sky and sinks in the west. Day becomes night becomes day. Spring leads into summer and so on. And yet...AND YET it's never the same, is it? Some days feel longer than others. We know they're not, empirically speaking, but emotionally one day is never the same length as another. We I was a kid, a summer day lasted forever yet before I knew it, I was back in school.

And then there's dreams (past events) and deja vu (future events), memories (past) and those arguments we have with ourselves in the shower about an upcoming confrontation that may or may not really happen but totally happen in our minds. And damn that other person for not following the script!

So what's up with that? How can something LITERALLY be the most consistent thing in our lives yet be so arbitrary at the same time?

Well, I don't have the answer to that. Philosophers and scientists and all types of people way smarter than I have attempted to understand and explain it. Some of their ideas make sense, some don't. Some feel right, others feel like a stab in the dark. I think we each have a unique relationship with Time. We each experience it differently and that may be part of the problem. We have very little common ground to discuss this and therefore how can we really understand why a minute goes by so quick until you have to swish mouthwash for a full minute and then it's the longest EVER.

For me, I think of Time as an ocean. Vast and deep and filled with unknown entities. See, a lot of people like to imagine Time as a river and they're a rock in the middle, letting Time flow past them. This makes sense on some levels. Feels like that a lot of the time, doesn't it? But still doesn't really explain everything. So I think we, has humans, tend to get caught in the riptide of time.

If Time is an ocean, then a riptide would try to pull us in a certain direction. Our instinct is to fight this, to swim back towards shore. But the tide stills pulls us and all we do is exhaust ourselves. The only way to escape a riptide is to swim PERPENDICULAR to it. To go laterally.

If we can do that, then we can break out from the forces that pull us along. We are free to swim in the ocean and explore it unencumbered. We can let the waves take us or we can move in a different direction. We are floating, not fighting.

And then, all those dreams and memories and thoughts and mouth-washing minutes become one and the same. We can live a lifetime in an hour. Or in a lifetime. Or five. Doesn't matter because it's all the same.

Don't fight the riptide. Don't let it take you away from shore if you don't wish to. Learn to swim at an angle through life.

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