It seems from man’s earliest beginnings we have been obsessed with time; perhaps to be more accurate, the passage of time. It’s part of the very foundations of burgeoning humanity, this compulsion to monitor the passing time. If you look at the history of human life on this planet there are giant monuments scattered all over the globe to make observations of time.
Stonehenge is a giant Solstice clock, the Aztecs and Mayans made calendars, the Egyptians used the Nile to monitor time, sundials were made and celestial charts studied and poured over, the natural world was observed so carefully by our ancestors they were able to map stars and planets, tidal forecasts and even the weather. They did this all because of their obsession with time.
They dealt with time in a very different way that we do. Time for them wasn’t limited to a fancy face on the wall with Mickey Mouse ticking away the seconds. It was as much a part of their daily lives as breathing. Timing was certainly, everything. I would like to think time was so valued because of its relative briefness. I think our forbearers understood that time was limited and they dedicated their entire lives to the understanding of time. They studied it relentlessly, if you had the luxury of doing so of course. The peasant in the field only knew that God turned the sun off to make the night. So he could go to bed and to rise when God mercifully made the sun reappear in the sky so the farmer could again toil in the mud and feces fields. But I pick on the Dark Ages, and deservedly so I think.
Yet there was an educated class that marveled at the passage of time and was simultaneously fascinated and horrified. They were so amazed by it that they could motivate God Kings, Lords, Tribal leaders, what have you, to mobilize their entire population into the construction of monuments and monoliths, or temples with highly accurate sun windows to mark Equinoxes or important dates of the year. Their desire to capture time, to hold it and control it was enough to change whole cultures, to move people from place to place, to war, to peace, to exploration.
Time is cruel and beautiful. It is a complete mystery, yet the fabric on which our entire lives unfold. Time is worth the obsession it garners. I’m more obsessed with time only because I feel like mine is getting shorter. I’m sure I have a pretty solid 30 or 40 years left in me and what with medical science doing all kinds of stuff, I’m sure I’ll be Johnny Live-A-Lot. I’m still fascinated with it though. I’m more aware of the impermanence of our lives along this long flowing fabric and I understand the desires of our elders to create giant structures in honor and in the study of time.
It can drive a person insane to consider all the facets of time. Time is the mother of us all and the end of us all. Time makes us both important and completely irrelevant. Time boosts our potential and then tears it down. Time is looked forward to and simultaneously regretted. Time embarrasses us and rewards us. It makes tragedy bearable and humor possible. It makes us heroes and villains.
Time is insanity put to music. We’re all forced to dance to it, all in different rhythms. What monuments will we build? Will we ever be above time, timeless, as it were? Or is it true that beauty has to be temporary in order for it to have value? I guess, in the most cliché was possible, only time will tell.