Admitting is the first step: I’ve been on the Internet far too much since being home for break. The post-holiday buzz has me desperately searching for procrastination supplements from the unglamorous tasks of makeup schoolwork and closet cleaning. However, the Internet, though horrifyingly dangerous, can be a source of guidance and inspiration. While searching through the soul of my laptop, I came across an image titled “Self-Help” and it read:
How to stop time: kiss How to travel in time: read How to escape time: music How to feel time: write How to release time: breathe
Instantly, I was swept up in the indefinite romance of this simple passage. Time, as a humanly static function, gives us a sense of purpose, a scale for things to depend upon, an excuse for some people, or a celebration for others. It is this hidden function of time, separate from space, that intrigues me. As an English major, I am required to explore the what’s absent from the page—a missing link, a masked character, a problem not addressed—and discuss why this absence is the key to critiquing the question at hand. Time is much like this discipline: it must not be manipulated by squeezing out its structures, but by noticing the absences and noting the importance of the sensational void. These five functions of time (or lack thereof) are pinnacle in understanding yourself as a body in time and a soul in the metaphysical, mystical, and quite trippy world of space. It is with this yearning to learn, understand, manipulate, and rule-break that I come bearing my thoughts on time:
Until this year, I hadn’t quite experienced the time-stopping magic of a kiss. I’ve engaged in this strange human practice a handful (or two) of times, but these so-called “magic” elements were never granted to me. One eye was always closed; one was on my Mickey Mouse watch (figuratively, of course). In the most unexpected and abrupt fashion, this human practice presented itself as a gateway to the soul’s nonexistent time frame. A particular kiss brought to a stop sign at the intersection of reality and awareness. And I craved for the light to never turn green. After it inevitably did, I learned that kissing shouldn’t be a measurement of a time, but rather, time should be a measurement of kissing. The ones truly worth something should allow you to travel, escape, feel, and release all at once without any clockwork. It gives you a beautiful black hole of time where everything has a passionate affair with nothing and time is cheated on in the most spectacular way.
Disillusionment, destruction, violence, heartbreak, and deception are all contained in the historical exploration reading provides us. Reading can allow us to be detectives of our world’s past. I never thought that reading a Victorian white old man’s thoughts on a gentleman’s inheritance of money would be fascinating, but this sly tool of reading allowed me to uncover the cultural implications of gender, economics, and class as justice issues in the 1860s. Romanticized by the Roaring 20s, I always yearned to walk the streets of Paris with the great American writers. It wasn’t until I studied the breadth of their works that I thanked God for being born in 1995. Reading brings a platform allowing us to live in time while simultaneously critiquing it. Time travel is not merely as much of an escape as it is an exploration.
Music gives definition to ridiculous nonsensical feelings. The other day I heard the song “Mia & Sebastian’s Theme” by Justin Hurwitz and I instantly spit out its definition: “nostalgia for something I have yet to experience.” Music can be a manifestation of feelings, which makes its escaping nature quite fascinating. In many ways, the escape music gives us is an exit door leading to the other functions of time. It inspires and gives permission, it prohibits and intercedes. Escaping time can be dangerous, which is why music is also radical. Engaging in the sweet and sour vibrations of an instrument allows us to experience a world not our own in a world so completely alone. It’s paradoxical in that it is both aesthetic and necessary. It’s this enticing paradox that is time’s devil.
To “feel time” is the ultimate goal of my existence (other than being a servant of Christ, obviously). I want to drink every sunset, feel every trip up the steps, notice every person walking to work, watch the reflection of the clock on my grandparent’s faces, feel the intersection of time-zones in a glance at the moon, celebrate the stretch marks on hips once the size of a finger. My soul demands the cooperation of my mind to bring these moments to life. Writing is the ultimate time stamp to a feeling. The word “passion” is a function of time and emotion in that requires action and intent from the soul. I’ve tried to live to feel all moments with great capacity and depth, but I’ve found the only way to feel the second-hand’s movements is to write them to life. However, it is in this passing of time that I am present in writing my own narrative. Living is as much about writing as it is time, even if you’ve never picked up a pen. Time can be equally felt in the awareness of the story and the clicking of keys on a keyboard. My philosophy is this: I yearn to create a sentence as beautiful as my life, and to create a life as beautiful as my sentences.
The moments where I let go of time are those where I remember simply seeing and breathing; the ones where I have the control to release time into the warm embrace of a sunset, or to release the toxins of a bad conversation into the trashcan as I walk home from class. “Let it go” can be overused and enigmatic, but the first step is to engage your body so that your soul can replicate. I see releasing time as young girl throwing a stone across a lake, or a boy letting go of a firefly he just caught. Breathing out is as natural as the creations of this Earth; releasing time is natural and necessary for movement, growth, and stability.
The presence and absence of time yields a messy love/hate relationship with all of its partners and victims. As humans, who created the concept of time as we know it, we can expect nothing less. However, immersing ourselves in the absence of time is quite a holy rule-breaking technique. Being on God’s time requires us to be in no time at all. That’s why patience is always followed by a pointed finger and a voice reminding you, “it’s a virtue.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” God does not exist in human time, which is why these five functions, existing in the lack of time, can feel so out-of-this-world, or heavenly. I believe that God is truly present especially in these moments of no time.
Recently I was on FaceTime with three of my girlfriends and we were discussing our “vocations.” The two who are discerning the sisterhood reminded me that their discernment processes are up in the air, but that’s okay because all God requires in their presence. The respective sisters in the orders they are entering remind the women that, while they may not know what the month of May looks like, they needn’t know. Love exists in the absence of time in a way that is so heavenly, so God-given. While existing in no time may not be the best lifestyle option, actively being present to the moments of no time are some of the most God-given gifts we can utilize to strengthen our relationships on Earth and beyond. And while these five functions may not be your “thing,” they certainly give meaning and understanding to an existence of the invisible infinite that is so present among the people we hold close and the decisions we make.