Time, and time again

The passage of time, the marking of it, has never been stranger than since you died. Dates, seasons and their associated import and memory, seem to be tattooed just under my skin – out of sight, but exerting themselves effortlessly into consciousness (or semi-consciousness) at the appointed time. Anniversaries of all sorts – doctor appointments, hospital stays, trips we took, last times we did this or that – especially that last year, are sentinels of significance that I appreciate and long for, even if they’re painful. When I look at the actual calendar and my record of events for confirmation, I think, “ah yes, no wonder I feel this way.”

As I mentally and emotionally move through the chronology of 2013, the turning over and remembering of its defining moments, I’m negotiating, as I must, the present-moment. It seems to me a kind of slipstream time, the present. A time oddly hidden from itself. More like a shadowed or cocooned time. Time that is pulled somehow, largely invisible, and without a sense of perceptible movement, but definitely evolving. A waiting, suspended kind of time the clock-driven world is impatient with, and sometimes I feel like I’m a step behind (or ahead) even while all appears to be moving at the expected and customary pace.

Because time has felt so surreal since your death, it helps me to think about the ancient Greek understanding of time. They defined time as either chronos – sequential, chronological time – or kairos – “a time when conditions are right for the accomplishment of a crucial action.” In short, kairos being a more conditional or subjective understanding of time, and chronos more objective and measurable.  These past three years, this slipstream of time, feels more indeterminate and evolving, more kairos than chronos, even though intellectually I understand it is both. I feel less anxious when I consider the time I’m experiencing now as kairos time. It has a liminality I try to embrace, and it feels especially crucial. Most of all, you seem to exist here. We exist here.

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