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Joachim Patinir: Landscape with Charon Crossing the Styx, 1515-1524

" … we'll claim to have been there then without actually having understood anything."

We usually define time as finite, a steadily regulating entity, drawing the baseline cadence of our lives, at least in ordinary times. But we live in extraordinary times, beneficiaries of that ancient Chinese curse, so our time proceeds much more erratically. Some days constrain every effort while others seem to expand before us like a vast ocean stretching far beyond the visible or even any imaginable horizon, essentially black holes absorbing every expectation. I cannot fill these immense days, which expand time into unexpendable excess to produce the opposite of feelings of being pressed for time. Time moves languidly then, without harassing drop dead deadlines, hardly seeming like time at all. A Timemorelessness settles in, not needing management or optimization, for it seems an infinite good aching to be what more constraining times might insist upon labeling wasted, but one cannot waste Timemorelessness, like one cannot ever squander any infinite, for expending any portion of it seems to reduce the remaining only insignificantly.

I become a time Midas those days, where everything I touch turns into even more potential, rendering closure meaningless.
The purpose shrinks away from completion and achievement but expands to permit infinite new beginnings. Familiar chores, repeated to the point of utter boredom just the day before, become fresh and fascinating, blessings needing no disguise. The universe seems ready-to-hand, a willing servant to even the barest whim. I find myself within without feeling bounded by any limit. Not even the sky seems limiting then.

Like anyone winning a lottery, I feel unprepared for living with such abundance. On other days, I might reflect that I frittered away a past Timemorelessness, judging that period by rules only ever applicable to another. I might pray, on days when time seems overly constraining, that I might borrow some of the abundant excess from my past or future Timemorelessnesses, but that cannot come to pass, for however infinite that time might seem, it must remain resident within itself, no borrowing, transferring, or trading, ever. Timemorelessness seems to spoil if I attempt to extend it, for its logic insists that it's only present or not, and never preserved for any other time not already possessing it. It cannot be conjured or encouraged, both antagonistic activities within any infinite expanse. It might be properly appreciated, though not even gratitude seems required to encourage its appearance. It's indifferent, only present, though present in only the most expansively infinite sense.

Timemorelessness can seem interminable. For those accustomed to Scrooge's time clock, only the more tenaciously finite forms of time feel tolerable. Time, for them, should only come in more manageable forms, scarce and stingy, to be transformed into things and thingies and traded for gold. Deadlines should properly loom to motivate forward momentum, and discernible progress simply must result. Separation from this finite god must seem more like a form of punishment than any kind of reward. Timemorelessness's inevitable entropy produces its own disorienting reward. Clocks continue ticking, but become meaningless. Were time to simply be rather than inexorably marching on, every moment might feel overlong and irrelevant, timemoreless.

Pandemics bring a certain Timemorelessness to this plane. The duration cannot be explained away. Even the underlying nature of the invading beast remains an abiding mystery. Days disappear into disorienting diaspora, displaced from their usual regulating pace. Weeks slip by without leaving much residue, seasons, too. The summer looms on the tail of the preceding winter. Spring seemed both here and gone. The journal of my passage seems garbled and wrong, a song not so much of experience but of sheer presence, though evidently not really ever here at all. Between the rising and the fall, some times seem to stand taller than others, though their depths and heights cannot be accurately measured while they're still here. In retrospect, employing wholly inappropriate metrics, we'll claim to have been there then without actually having understood anything.

©2020 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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