29 May 2008
Time for Change
How do you know that time is passing? Clocks don't help much, nor does the sun. Our bodies fall into rhythm with the seasons which provide tactile, visible and psychological routines that our minds register for reference. Think about your own memories. Are they connected with time, days, nights or seasons? Mine are all associated with either summer, fall, spring or to a much lesser extent winter. Although very few specific spring memories stick out, one feeling dominates them all: the renewal of all creation as life and color burst through the gray veneer of winter. This is when you know a year has passed, not at New Years which, on psychological and biological levels, indicates neither new nor year.
Thus my utter and desperate feeling of timelessness living on the Equator where spring never comes and months fade into years like the drain sucks dirty old water into some unexplored void. I started taking large quantities of pictures a few years ago when I realized that I don't remember things anymore and if I don't have at least a photographic record of my children's childhood, it too will become a confusing blur. There is nothing to stick events and feeling to here, there is no good moment to write off a bad stretch and make resolutions.
Life is totally unrecognizable without "time" and it's child: memories. On an individual level, events lose importance and efforts towards transcendence imply escaping the mundane merry-go-round of days and months. Everything can wait until tomorrow even though everything happens here and now and bears little relation to what may have already taken place. On a collective level, societies build identity around current public debates, fashion and trends. Cohesiveness and commonality depend on the constant ebb and flow of issues and often the interplay between tragedies and momentaneous victories. Struggle and hope are possibly the only constants.
Perhaps for this reason people cling so fiercely to small group identities like political parties, football teams, regionalisms, race and above all class. These provide identity, and memories on the one hand, and on the other, render the great majority incapable of the impartiality required for effective and inclusive collective decision-making processes. The "other" is practically invisible when your whole world revolves around the battle raging between your groups and the ignorant enemies lurking outside.
The only moments that I am struck by the passage of time are when I see what was once a child who has transformed into a youth. If he has changed so much, that must mean that I am that much older too. So, on the Equator because time passes by inference and not by natural psychological or biological rhythms, the material world that can be felt and seen here and now gains special importance. Any spiritually oriented meaning for life and self-identity, divorced from dogmas and blind imitations, must be forged with supreme effort by creating spiritual time, time that measures and compares one's currently manifested grades of patience, generosity and love against those demonstrated in the past. Collective spiritual identity can similarly be measured by the caliber of spiritual maturity society displays now in it's reaction to the "other" compared with how people previously struggled against exclusion and selfishness. It is precisely this spiritual time that provides clear understanding of the past and a vision for the future. Hope, optimism and even will to action depend entirely on success in this supreme effort. Only then can Spring come.