Tuesday, November 10, 2009


It has been 20 years since the Berlin Wall came down. Twenty years. How is that possible? My kids were 9, 6, and 4? They probably do not even remember it? To me it was yesterday. Okay, maybe it seems like 10 years ago. But 20? No way.

I was playing with that number today and I realized that time is messing with my head. I think it's intentional but how can you be sure? Time is, in theory, passive. It is the passing of seconds but who can hold a second in his hand in order to show you what it is? So let's switch that up a bit. Time is moments. Individual moments. A dictionary has called it "The indefinite continued passing of events in the past, present and future regarded as a whole."

What does THAT mean? It sounds to me that time is defined not as an entity in and of itself. Time is, well it is what transpires. You cannot hold time. You can "hold" or at least "observe" the passing of events. So I suppose I am good with that.

I was born in 1955. June, to be exact. That makes me 54 years old. When I was born my father had been back from World War 2 for 10 years. I was probably 5 years old before I was seriously understanding that there was a history and a future. To me history consisted of the last chocolate bar I had eaten. The future consisted of the next chocolate bar I would eat. I didn't do much thinking about WWII. But when I finally became cognizant of the fact that it existed in history, in time and space, I was sure it was an eternity ago. After all, it had been 10 years. And now it has been 20 years since that big wall came down that separated East and West Germany. 20 years since President Reagan boldly stood at the Brandenberg Gate and challenged Mr. Gorbachev to "Tear down this wall."

And now it occurs to me, when I was born my father must have still felt the helmet on his head. The boots on his feet. The rifle in his hand. I know for certain that he still dreamed of the horrors he had witnessed. I don't suppose I expect anybody else to understand this, but it blows me away to realize how true this is.

I think this is all coming to mind because my dad has been gone for nearly 10 years. And I have been thinking about him a lot lately. In about 29 minutes it will be Veterans Day. My dad didn't talk much about his army years. His war years. He didn't begin to open the veil that obstructed the view of his curious sons until just before he died. Once the veil began to lift I understood why. There were horrors behind it. Bloody, evil, horrors. And he wanted to forget them. And he didn't want to infect our minds with them.

And now I find myself struggling with the concept of time. Who knows where that came from? I suppose it snuck up on me due to a variety of circumstances. All of my struggles have produced only a limited number of recognizable thoughts.

Time really does fly. Time really does not wait for any man. Individual moments seem to last for eternity while, at the same time, the whole seems to rocket by.

The meaning of all of this? I think that the meaning is that only one part of time counts. It isn't yesterday and it isn't tomorrow. It is now. What will I do with now? Because yesterday my current now was tomorrow. Tomorrow my current now will become yesterday. But even then, all I will have is ... now.

I am not sure what you can do with that. I'm even less sure that it will help you. And I am totally uncertain that you will understand where I am coming from or where I am going with all I have said. I only know that it has infected my consciousness and my heart and so I have to deal with it.

As that great theologian, Steve Miller, once said ...
Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin'
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin', slippin', slippin'
Into the future

I want to fly like an eagle
To the sea
Fly like an eagle
Let my spirit carry me
I want to fly like an eagle
Till I'm free
Oh, Lord, through the revolution

Feed the babies
Who don't have enough to eat
Shoe the children
With no shoes on their feet
House the people
Livin' in the street
Oh, oh, there's a solution

Maybe time is to feed the babies, shoe the children, and house the people? Maybe somebody got something right in the '70s after all. Who knew?


Anonymous said...

Time does keep slippin... I remember more than 30+years ago going fishing with your dad on the Kankakee River. It probably was near that time when that song came out. I never really examined the song. I guess I am somewhat stupid. That is a good way to be...
Shoe the children...
I am gonna do it...

Jeff your brother.