32. the tick-tock of the continuum, its slow slippage



clock london


The beating of your heart inside your chest; the gradual progression of a shadow across a wall. And each moment unique: not an infinity of heartbeats and shadows, but a calculable quantity. The repetition of a thing lulls us to sleep, gives rise to the illusion that it will endure without end, that each instance is identical to the next, like units of measurement. But what about this particular heartbeat, now: not a pedantic exercise, but an understanding of location in time and space, a sudden awareness of one’s coordinates. And already I have lost the thread of what I wanted to say, already I have been led astray by a metaphor, by language itself, distracted by a cat playing with a bit of string, by the creaky-hinge sounds of a bird outside my window. The cat sits on the windowsill, quiet and alert. I watch him make jerky little movements with his head and will myself into his point of view; I speculate on his perception of time, but then again, I haven’t even come close to understanding my own.

What matter that time becomes relative once it leaves the framework of human experience—it has no bearing on my life, or on yours. Just as it seems to slow down to a standstill, just as the coexistence of past and future gels and the moment takes on an auratic glow, minutes and hours have slipped by unnoticed. Ekstasis, the state of being or standing outside oneself, is also a stepping out of time—in other words, ecstasy, the highest state of intense joy, arises out of a suspension of the temporal, a momentary liberation from the tick-tock of the continuum, its slow slippage.

The cat sits on the windowsill, satisfied to observe, to play, to merely be. Is there a way to live without yearning, without the will to change things, impose oneself, create conditions perceived to be more conducive to a better life? If you were here, now, and I no longer felt the vacuum of your absence, would my mind turn to something else that is missing? Would we yearn together, or would we be satisfied to sit on the windowsill, alert to everything around us: the invisible stirrings in brittle branches preparing for spring, the anticipation of change chirped from trees, the quiet comfort of the cyclical. The garbage is collected on Thursdays; the rent is due tomorrow. These too are the cycles of our existence: around and around and around, without respite.

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