Living in Time

Father TimeAs I reflect on my most recent ordeals, I am coming to comprehend my newest lessons from living in the realm of time. I am learning that I can handle more than I imagined. And that I cannot handle all that I had envisioned.

The things I can handle are all about fear, like an invasion of mice and water seeping into my home. These were the subjects of many, many nightmares, but when they occurred in my waking life, I was able to face them somewhat. I use to fear the deaths of my loved ones, but then most of my immediate family has died, so I was forced to face yet another fear. I use to fear my own pain and illness, but yet again, I am in pain and I have been gravely ill. I still fear my own vulnerability and dependence. And recent weeks have brought these fears front and center as well.

The things I cannot handle, on the other hand, have all to do with ageing. I cannot climb up and clean my gutters, nor check the state of my roof. I cannot kneel down and scrub my floors, nor can I maneuver myself into tight crawl spaces to inspect wiring or pipes. I cannot lift heavy equipment, nor can I rearrange furniture between rooms without some assistance. I probably need to be extra careful when climbing ladders, although my friends would prefer that I let someone else do it. I can install and remove the glass panels on my screen doors, but it will cost me dearly in bruises and dings.

In fact, the list of things I can or cannot handle changes almost daily. And this frightens me deeply. And it is all about age and ability, my age and my ability. It is the place where my fears and my age coincide. In the realm of time, it is all about limits, real and imagined, being tested and changed day in and day out.

Change. Living in time is truly living with change. It is the true meaning of impermanence. Our life cycles, the seasons, the phases of the moon never truly repeat. We are simply spinning on a top that is jumping all around. What we considered a regular pattern is simply our way of making sense out of this madness.

And the primary tool we use to make sense of this eternal spinning is the simple act of marking time. Day to night, week to month, we are whistling pass the graveyard of impermanence. Time itself is a construct we wield to shape some order out of this chaos.

But then, a full moon brightens the night sky; and before us is displayed the Yang within the Yin. And the bright sun is obscured by the moon; and before us is displayed the emergence of the Yin into the Yang. And every spring, the earth reawakens from her wintry nap. And a crone holds a newborn in her strong but gentle hands, and the wheel turns. The wheel is turning around the spindle of the eternal dancer. And time herself is born once again.

It is inescapable. Even if we reject her, time is as eternal as the dance of life itself. Time is life. Living in time, is living with impermanence.

“Teach me, Lord Yama, about non-violence and impermanence”, says the bright goddess Savitri/Gayatri. Lord Yama, like all underworld gods, is a god of limits. We humans deposit limits, death, and impermanence into the underworld, the dark and mystery filled places of our consciousness. And so these concepts haunt our dreams and all the wild places.

“Don’t go into the city/forest/caves/night/dark, you will find death there.”

And how right you are. Death, like change, lives in the liminal places. Time is just such a place.

Another ring of darkness navigated by this underworld priestess. I reawaken sore, trembling and with tear stained eyes. Placing one foot, then the other on the shifting sands, I continue my journey toward mystery.
©2006 Katrina Messenger

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