“Time” is a Horrible Teacher

If you’re like me, you may be feeling a bit shocked to find yourself already staring at the final pages in your annual calendar, flabbergasted that the year is coming to a close. August was a heat-infused, dizzy month of loss and manic energy. September felt invigorating and full of community. October was–wait, it isn’t October anymore? November is slipping through my fingers, and another young life of a community loved one has slipped through, too.

We reach. We yearn. We reach again. There are so many gestures we can make with our hands; there are so many things we can say, without opening our mouths.

Time is slippery for a reason—it doesn’t really, you know…exist. Which means there are occasions that the passage of time isn’t a useful marker or tool. This year, what speaks to me more is the conversation between the body (all bodies, our bodies) and the planet (also a body, in space—just like us). Where do we touch? Yes, our feet, our fingertips. Where do we meet? Yes, at eye-level…through windows, dreams, sun-spots behind closed lids. Where do we nourish? Tears falling onto moss, water sliding down a throat, fish biting the worm.

But where are we missing one another?

This is what I’m trying to say: My body is in human form and it has a heart that beats. This planet is in the form of land and water and it, too, has a pulse. These things are not separate; they compel and form one another. As time fails to help me experience life with more presence, and as my mind fails to answer the hard questions about life and death in our community, what’s left?

What comes to me is something I have written about before: our best living happens when we learn to live life in the contrasts. Here, “best” does not necessarily mean “easy;” in fact the two are rarely in sync. Living life in the contrasts is more about holding two truths at the same time, and breathing into the tension, pain, joy, uncertainty, and brilliance that awaits us. I am a body. The planet is a body. These are both true and even though we seem separate, we are wholly the same. What might happen if we could hold two truths almost all the time? How might we care for one another differently? How might society behave?

Here are some truths that life has been asking me to hold, even when part of me is kicking and screaming and doesn’t want to live life in the contrasts:

  • beloved, dynamic young people die
  • beloved, dynamic young people live and help others live, too
  • bodies get sick and sometimes never get better
  • bodies heal and sometimes even heal themselves
  • the “great American novel” will never be written because the writer who could have written it gave up on herself when facing the odds of an unjust industry and a society that would rather see her do something else
  • the “great American novel” has been written, and there are many of them, and they save lives and evoke emotions and get passed down and accidentally have coffee spilled on them and there are more of them coming, including maybe yours

My hit reply questions for you this month are:

  • What truths are you holding that seem impossible to hold at the same time?
  • If time isn’t a sturdy tool for you as you reflect on 2022, what is a meaningful tool you use to reflect?
  • If you could get rid of one barrier between you and your writing (or creative project) between now and the end of this year, what would that barrier be and why?
  • Tell me about the last time you laughed–a big loud laugh, a quiet private chuckle…anything. Just tell me about it. And I bet you can’t do so without smiling! 🙂

I’d love to hear back from you. Contact me and share your answers, updates, insights, or questions.

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