Sunday, February 1, 2015

Time Enough? Time for February

I have heard people despair out loud about the "wasted month" of February. I guess they want time to run faster so they can get on with whatever business awaits in March. I am not so sure. First, the second month of the year is perfect for trimming woody plants back, perfect for outdoor projects too dangerous when the snakes begin to crawl in the thickets.

Second, the light creeps back into the day, to encourage us all. But I like the dark half of the year enough to use a good bit of February for reading by the wood stove. One of my pursuits involves writing down what writers a lot smarter than I am say about time.

Here are a few favorites from my book of quotations. Naguib Mahfouz called the course of the years "careening, unstoppable Time" and that is my favorite metaphor. These other meditations about time are also quite fine. I end with Annie Dillard's, perhaps my second favorite.

Find some time, take some time, borrow some time, steal some time, save some time to read this month. Just do not waste time.

"And what are two thousand years? What, indeed, if you look down from a mountain top down the long wastes of the ages? The very stone one kicks with one's boot with outlast Shakespeare"

     Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse

"We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once."

     Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

"Time slides past, slides past beyond recall, while, spellbound, we drift off among details"

    Virgil, The Georgics I: 284-85

"When the waves receded, the shores of Time would spread out there clean, empty, shining with infinite grains of memory and little else."

     Frank Herbert, Dune Messiah

"Pass through this moment in time in harmony with nature, and end your journey content, as an olive falls when it is ripe, blessing nature who produced it, and thanking the tree on which it grew."

     Marcus Aurelius, Meditations IV, 48

"Time itself is nothing; the experiencing of it is everything."

"Time itself, that weightless thing, could only go in one direction, no matter how you defined it or tried to step on its tail--that much at least seemed certain. Nobody knew what time was, but even if you placed all the clocks in the world in a circle, time would still run straight on, and should there be a finite end to time it was not one that could be imagined by human beings with a sense of vertigo. But what then were memories? Time that had been left behind and had now caught up with you, or that you yourself, by moving against the tide of time--doing the impossible in fact--could retrieve."

     Cees Nooteboom, Nomad's Hotel

"He would explore the lateral byways now, the side doors, as it were, in the corridors of time. There months could be an eternity."

     J.G. Ballard, "The Voices of Time"

"Hold to the now, the here, through which the future plunges to the past."

     James Joyce, Ulysses

"We sleep to time's hurdy-gurdy; we wake, if we ever wake, to the silence of God. And then, when we wake to the deep shores of time uncreated, then when the dazzling dark breaks over the far slopes of time, then it's time to toss things, like our reason, and our will; then it's time to break our necks from home."

     Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm

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