Singing, stop this train
I want to get off and go home again
I can’t take the speed it’s moving in
I know, I can’t
‘Cause now I see I’ll never stop this train.
-John Mayer & Pino Palladino
Time. I have a very volatile relationship with time. It’s a dimension that I just don’t understand. It can only be measured, not manipulated. It’s a force that brings me stress, pain, anxiety, and relief. I am most acutely aware of time during extreme emotions, and the changing of the seasons, particularly Spring and Fall. This Fall, time’s power is even more obvious to me. I watch the leaves glow and drift. I feel the cold creep in. I know what is to come, and pass again.
Since I was young, my mother kindly warned me, “Don’t wish your life away.” I have always counted down my way to highly anticipated, pleasurable events. Whether it was a holiday, birthday, or an outing, I was looking forward. Likewise, during painful times, I would pray the time would pass. No matter the situation, the time did pass; taking all of the good and bad with it.
As I age, hopefully growing wiser, more frequently there are moments that I want the time to slow. I want moments when I can accurately express my love for those whom I care for the most, moments when I can dance with pure freedom, moments when I can hold my children in their innocent youth, and moments when I linger and absorb the blessings and sensations of life. If only we could choose time’s velocity, and hold its remote control to reverse, pause, or fast forward. At that thought, I immediately realize that we most certainly could not be trusted. Time, as suffering, is a lesson.
I have given birth, and observed death. Both are not pretty, but they are the primal bookends of our human existence. A birth can be filled with anxiety, blood, sweat, tears, and extreme joy. Ready? My experience with death was exactly parellel with an equal absolute value. Although, there was no blood, there was everything else. Only the joy presented itself as relief for my father, as he was now at peace. During my son’s birth, I was in amazement that in literally one second we did not have a person, and in the next we did. How is that? How can so much change so quickly? Likewise, death is the same. One second there is life and the next it has passed. It is only possible through time.
Had I been holding such a remote, I would have by passed the pain like a commercial. I would have paused the glory, the pleasure, the fun, the love, and the peace. Would I have been able to recognize it all without the less desirable? I’m quite certain I would have not. As a result, I would have lost it all. Time and suffering are my teachers. I must learn to surrender to the flow of passing time in order to receive its gifts, no matter how painful or joyful they are felt.
As the holidays arrive, they bring the stresses and joys of celebrations. They also bring opportunities to practice presence. May I begin to cooperate with time, no longer bickering, but finding forgiveness and acceptance of its boundaries and blessings.