Saturday, November 14, 2009

Time keeps on slipping

Earlier, I related a tale of woe from 2004 and while I would turn 34 later that year, I do recall that I concluded my 33rd year, with questions as to what I was doing, where I was going? As the third and last child, I have always felt the emphasis of order in all things and while I had gone off to school to become an engineer and then entered the professional world as a technology consultant, I knew that for a time I had considered the law as a career - and I knew my open dalliances with being a lawyer must have awfully teased my parents!

And so, I know that as I celebrated my 33rd birthday, I asked my folks what goals they had for me, what things did they hope I accomplished. In truth, I suppose I was asking by allusion for them to tell me if they thought I was on the right path or not. They murmured little, or they demurred to intercede with large print directives, so I went back on my way, content in the knowledge that I had fulfilled my filial duties - or at least, that I was on my way.

Six months later, I partially lost my hearing and my neat and tidy world began to wobble, slightly. The orbit of my existence knocked of course by a seemingly random event, as though I were pushed aside by a comet hurtling through the cosmos. And while I struggled mightily to hold fast to the course I had plotted for myself - insisted that being diagnosed with MS was nothing that could alter my path or inhibit me on my journey to complete my appointed rounds, looking back I can now see that my world was forever changed that year. I was nudged - shoved - off the path on which I had perhaps become to complacent, to focused on goals that were perhaps not mine to achieve and I was placed on a new path, one that I have yet to define or even understand.

But I am beginning to understand some things, one of which is that the concept of the future being unknown to us is more powerful than I had before grasped. As day turns to night, night turns to day, we can find ourselves lulled by the pattern into a sense of expectation: seasons will change and the presence of cycles abound around us in nature and by becoming witnesses to these cycles, we begin to set our internal clocks for what we expect tomorrow will bring. But that is the world of observation and for all of our knowledge of the world beyond our observation, the power of visible, repetitive patterns force their way into our consciousness and stamp their expectations over all of our activities.

It's as though our conscious understanding of the world around us, causes us to push past all of those unseen actions, that we acknowledge - rarely - but of which we have little understanding. And as it is our conscious actions that enable us to get through the day, it is in some sense easier for us to focus on what is in front of us, as opposed to that which is taking place outside of our line of sight. In many respects, this means that not only is the future unknown to us, but that the present is only dimly grasped as well. When I was inquiring of my parents, about what plans they may wish me to fulfill, I was unaware that internally, my immune system was preparing to launch an assault on my nervous system. It is only in retrospect that even the faint outlines of the assault can even be surmised.

So here we are: the future is both unknown and unknowable and the present is dimly conceptualized - at best. This means that we must look to the past for all insight. It is the past we must mine for the markers of those unseen patterns, that we might glean some clue that might better illuminate our present and alight the stepping stones of the path into the future.

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