Time is a very strange thing. It is not so much a thing as a state of motion, and it can be described only by its varying rates of speed. Of course, those rates are subjective, only measurable to oneself if one records one's perceptions in relative terms. Objectively, time itself is a measure as it registers with the ticks of a pocket watch or with the movement of the tides, the moon and the earth as it spins in relation to the sun and the stars. There is also the measuring of time in the face and body. This is both subjective and objective. The facts seem s simple, yet beyond them the subjectiveness renders time strange.
I first noticed it when I was a child. Halcyon afternoons seemed to last forever when they were dappled in sun and shade, with the cooling taste of mint in lemonade while I talked or played while waiting for dinner, listening to the leaves moving. Walking to church, on errands, or to go visiting seemed to stretch time similarly. It seemed as if destinations would never be reached and I disliked the weary tedium of endless-seeming exercise and the prickly stickiness of sweat and dust that never seemed to be present when I ranged freely though the woods or fields with Hub or Thomas. Study and practice was a different matter.
When I say I worked long hours , days or years to learn to speak - or on the piano, at academia, dentistry, guns or cards - it is true, but it did not seem so. When I sat down with my books with my mama's arms around me, and later on my own, I was always surprised when she rose to light the lamps - to notice the light had changed and the daylight had darkened. I missed a great deal of my childhood in this way, but it was
an idyll. "How patient he is!" Visitors would say of me, but I would exchange a smile with my mama at that, for we knew it was not patience. It has always been the same for me when I worked or studied. Time bows politely and exits, leaving me to my diligent business.
During the war things were different. Time laid heavily on our minds. It marched slowly, relentlessly and wearily from battle to battle, like our men, and we were never sure whether to fear or hope. Even work in those days seemed as if we did it in order to busy ourselves while we tried to fill an infinity of time until the train arrived with news, until there was a letter or a victory or defeat, until more relations arrived safely to further fill our home, until the awful day we were sure was coming when the looting burning union army would arrive to destroy us personally. We worked to fill the time until we could free ourselves of waiting by losing ourselves in brief sleep. The work was hard and manual then, and there was little ease from time's oppression even at night. My mama slept even less than we who were children.
After my mama died, time continued to drag unbearably as i waited and watched and yearned to leave The Major and the girl he called his wife. I showed no patience then, just rage - cold and focussed, or hot and violent. I wanted to nudge, to push , to kick time so that it would move faster. All I wanted was to be gone and working to become a dentist. My school was fine and all things good, but those years seemed to last forever.
My years in Philadelphia passed like a lightning flash. I studied, worked for diligence, fulfilment and joy. Then they were over.Consumption
. In 1873 I stood on that station platform and i was dead. Time was over
and everything thereafter I did looking backward
. Though everything I did was for the future, it seemed as if I was doing it in the past, even as I did it. Time was confused. Always. The only exception was the long summer road trip with Wyatt to Prescott. Time stretched beautiful and endless then, as it had only ever done in my boyhood days with Hub and Mattie. Long days covered hypnotic miles with our best and fastest horses nodding slow and lazy tied behind the buckboard. Long close days were filled with talk, care and ideas. Long close nights under the star-sparkling sky worked like champagne, and the air was fresh and our sleep was sound. But we had a destination, and eventually it came upon us.
I once thought of time as responsibility - of it constructing an earthly Heaven, apart from the celestial one of Our Father, where we will meet again. It is said that if one is very good one goes to Heaven and if one is very bad one goes to Hell. Time makes the future. If one is very good, one makes the future good - one affects it by example or by changing events for the better. If one is very bad one makes the future worse. One lives on in one's influence and thus, if one has been a good influence, one is in Heaven. If one has been a bad influence, one is in Hell. Thus, time gives one responsibility! I had this thought and always worked towards it, not just for myself, that I might be in Heaven, but for the future itself, that it
might be a Heaven.
I still believe that.
Now, thrown into the twenty first century, time has slowed and calmed. I move through it now as through air. Every moment is a gift from Him, but there is no division of minutes. That has ceased to be important.Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Word Count: 967
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Nulli Virtute Secundus