Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Time and True Love

Seattle sculptress Tip Toland's "Milk for the Butter Thief," 2008.

As we get older, our perception of time changes considerably. 

When we are young, a year feels like a long time. When we are thirty, that same year appears to pass more quickly. When we reach fifty, a year seems like a couple of months. When we cross sixty, years become moments.

Slippery sand, through the greedy throat of the relentless hour-glass.

When I was sixteen, my teacher tried to explain this to me. As an intellectual proposition, I understood him well enough. But, time itself lulled me into a false sense of security. I wasted a lot of life, thinking that the abundance of hours I perceived would go on forever. Although I kept his words in mind, the real teaching awaited experience.  

When Paul McCartney was sixteen, he wrote a song entitled, "When I'm Sixty-Four:"
"Will you still need me?
Will you still feed me?
When I'm sixty-four?"
Aging is one of the features of conditioned existence that we experience as suffering. Our bodies begin to change, and falter. Those we have loved begin to die away. 

Our memories become like noisy neighbors, fighting in the upstairs apartment. For a while, they scream and throw things. Then, before disappearing into desultory silence, they reconcile with squeaking springs, and thumping headboards. It becomes so repetitious you make a conscious effort to move away. Later, if some caprice takes you down that old street, the building is already torn down.

If you navigate by landmarks, the day will arrive when you become lost. 

Silken skin that once you loved to caress will become old cotton, and you will lose your way. The seemingly endless mischief in sky blue eyes will fade to cornflowers, colorful for just one season. The perfume that mixed with perspiration -- the scent you longed for, the scent you could pick out of a thousand miles of wind -- will give way to the hot oils of torn ligaments and aching joints. Shining brocade that catches the light and quickens the pulse will become worn wool.

You will search in vain for a familiar face along a bewildering hall of mirrors.

The next time someone says, "I love you," take them to a warehouse where the old are discarded. Look directly into all the faces, look directly into all the eyes, and do not draw away if anyone still has the strength to take your hand.

Look directly into your own heart, and ask yourself -- very fearlessly -- if you really understand time and true love.


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2 reader comments:

Zendette said...

Very powerful. Aging frightens me.

Jin B said...

Isn't it considered a human right, at least in the US, to have partner in illusion, I mean a true love, at least once in one's life before the body is trashed and the soul wheels about? I posit, though, in spite of the illusion, or delusion one may get under, the nearly organic or genetic desire to feel real or imagined total empathy with another thing is THE prerequisite to feeling and then acting on total compassion for all things that carry on in the plane of the living.