Posts Tagged ‘Time’

Africa Journal #4, Time out of time

January 5, 2012

We have just completed our 3rd full day on this adventure in Africa. It takes a lot of concentration to figure that out. Three days. It might have been three years. Maybe just a minute. Only a speck of time. All of eternity. I can’t say why or wherefore or what I really mean by this. There couldn’t be a narrative that would even vaguely contain it.

Yet, as it goes in Kenya, we spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting to herd cats to get in the vans to leave. Waiting an hour for the paint store to mix one can of paint. Waiting for the police escort to stand in a long line to check out his weapon so that he can escort us into the slum. Waiting for the kids to put on their little show for us. Nothing is “on time.” What is time? I’ve been waiting for 18 months to get back to Africa to see Esther, the little girl I promised to come back to see. Now waiting to finally get to her orphanage to see her, which will happen tomorrow.

Time is a man-made invention. It doesn’t exist as we know it in nature. And it sure doesn’t exist as we know it in Africa.  I feel its absence like a presence here. This happens where in live in the mountains of Appalachia, I have learned a lot about time and timelessness in the mountains. But this is qualitatively different from that experience too. It is more condensed. More vast. More original.

To live and move and be in the world beyond time, outside of time, released from time, that would be closer to our primordial nature. That way of being is with us all along if we just listen. Time is an illusion anyway. I feel closer to that here, and I like it. It changes you.

Time, Space and Love

September 26, 2010

Dicksee - Romeo and Juliet

Just watched the movie Letters to Juliet. When I was a teenager I had posters on my wall of Romeo and Juliet, memorized scenes from the play which I can still recite, and lived a similar story of forbidden love except that I survived, my Romeo did not. Survivors guilt is a serious conflict.

Another story that mesmerized me completely in my youth was the story of Arthur, Guinevere and Lancelot, portrayed exquisitely in the musical movie Camelot, starring Richard Harris and Vanessa Redgrave. I saw it over and over again. Now this movie, Letters to Juliet, made these many decades later, starred Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero, who played Guinevere and Lancelot in  Camelot. This new movie has their characters, in a completely separate story from the Camelot’s story, find each other after 50 years of separation. A story of passionate young love,  tragic separation, which generations later turns to joy. Their love endures, the story suggests it was not a fantasy or hormonal problem, was true. (I wouldn’t tell you the movie’s outcome, except that you’ll see it in the trailers and read it on the Netflix blurb anyway. I’m not stealing the punchlines, this is what the movie is about, up front.)

The love in this story endured time, distance and separation. Currently I am haunted by the love story of a dear friend who just lost her beloved to what seems to be a very untimely death. They were crazy about each other and looking forward to growing old together, with excitement. Caring about my friend, and trying to figure out how to be a helping spirit, strongly triggers recollections of my own marriage love lost to a death of a different kind, a confusion of events that obfuscated the love and let it sink into an underworld. A sunken ship.

Letters to Juliet‘s opening had an exquisite slide show of paintings and photographs showing couples in the midst of passionate love stories. I couldn’t help  but think that the artists who painted these scenes, and the love that inspired them to paint it, are all long gone, part of our collective history.

So why trust love, why engage with it, why believe in it if its death is already in its birth? Because. Because of Hannah, who I wrote about yesterday, my 3-year-old mentor. Because life and death are one thing. Because there is no death without life, nor life without death. Because they work together to explode the heart into recognizing what is eternal. Time is an illusion, space is an illusion. Love is not. Every mystic from every tradition and every era will say the same.

Does it help us with the loss of love in this time/space continuum? Barely. Only slightly. But the facts remain.


August 26, 2010

I sleep outside each night, listen to the owls, watch the moon and hear changes in the wind. Rain comes through. Birds awake me, and bees too, so industrious in their buzzing I have to put a pillow over my head. I live on the mountain, yet attempt in the day to connect to time in the consensual reality that dominates the larger, cultural world. Time is a man-created thing. I keep trying to catch up with the “real” world man created, yet the real world doesn’t involve time as we have conceived of it.

From my favorite poet Rainer Maria Rilke in Sonnets to Orpheus I, 22:

We set the pace.
But this press of time —
take it as the little thing
next to what endures.

All this hurrying
soon will be over.
Only when we tarry
do we touch the holy.

Young ones, don’t waste your courage
racing so fast,
flying so high.

See how all things are at rest —
darkness and morning light,
blossom and book.