Prisoners of Time

Remember the feeling as a child
When you woke up and morning smiled
It's time. it's time, it's time you felt like that again

--"Take a Giant Step" by Carole King and Gerry Goffin

The poet William Wordsworth famously wrote that "our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting."  He was only partly right.  It's true we forget where we came from, but it is no less true that the splendor surrounding us in infancy is gradually obscured by all that we cannot forget.  The memories pile up hour by hour and year by year until we can no longer see much of anything we have not experienced before.  Each day robs its successors of some small discovery, a fresh insight, a sense of new beginnings.  We are made dull by dull routines.  As the author of Ecclesiastes lamented more than 2,000 years ago, "What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun."  Hemmed in by yesterday and tomorrow, we become prisoners of time.

We don't see that the march of time is nothing more than an inexorable parade of thought.  The steady tick-tick-tick of each moment gone by is merely the ticking of memory.  In reality, there is no past apart from memory, no future apart from our thoughts about the future, no moment apart from the present.  There is only what is happening right now, since right now is all there is.  If we can just learn to pay attention, we will see that the present moment is always new, because it does not exist in relation to anything else.  As the mystical poet Angelus Silesius wrote:

Time is of your own making; its clock ticks in your head.  
The moment you stop thought, time too stops dead.

Ecclesiastes 1:9

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