the dangling thread, a quiet calling, and the curious thing called time

When I find myself saying the same thing over and again to different people — and yet, each instance never forced, but in accordance with what is, as if it is what deserves to be said — it doesn’t take long until I recognize that pattern as a sign.

An indicator.

Something or someone somewhere — if even just my own subconscious self — revealing something important to me.

That pattern is the dangling thread you feel off the button on your back left pocket every time you slip your wallet into place. “I’ve gotta remember to take care of that… else the button’ll fall right off.”

The dangling thread is a sign, and for me it’s a calling to write.

There is something there. Something present. A message, an idea that needs exploring, a trend that deserves noting, a story that demands telling.

Otherwise, it’ll disappear.

As a writer, I notice these trends and innately desire to metabolize them into ink.

It’s not that I’m transcribing something that I already know — even if, as we discussed recently, maybe it’s that we always know — but, rather, that writing is a deeply personal and explorative process through which I not only gain a far greater understanding of myself, but the world as a whole and all of its peoples who I am so grateful to live amongst, interact with, and learn from.

When I find myself saying the same thing over and again to different people, but each instance, at the precisely and effortlessly correct time, I know I need to write.

This summer, here’s one dangling thread that has been tickling my fingers:

Time.

Anniversaries are abound as we flick days and weeks and months off the calendar, and this summer was a particularly anniversary-laden one for me.

I…

  • the feeling of moving back home to Rhode Island just to finish and publish that book, then figure out the rest of my life later.

Oh, then there was that hurricane swirling down south, and, a year prior, one knocked out power completely for a handful of trying days as I stressed and struggled to make edits to my manuscript by candlelight.

Anniversaries. They feel as if they are abound for me these days.

But that curious thread that dangles from my pocket is not an ode to my first book-writing endeavor, but rather, demanding some curious exploration of time, itself.

This summer, I have noticed myself continually mentioning in conversation to friends, new and old alike, as well as family and clients and strangers…

“It feels like forever ago, and just yesterday.”

Whatever anniversary, memory, feeling, reflection or moment that we would be discussing in conversation, each felt like, at the same time, it was both “forever ago” and “just yesterday.”

A paradoxical parallel, by any measure, at least according to our time-bound minds.

I believe it was Einstein who first introduced the theory and discussion that on some plane, all instances of time are continual and ever-present, not linear and progressive. It’s like in some dimension we can’t even begin to fathom witnessing, there exists a parallel continuation of all events, moments and things, but in far different “time” terms than that which we pragmatically use in a calendar or wrist-watch.

Forever ago, and just yesterday.

On the one hand, a shadow of myself that seems so distant. So young, naive, unknowing, unaware.

I want to go back and tell him, “Dude, you have no idea what’s coming,” as if the warning might be beneficial in some way.

Call it self-empathy.

But in reality, I know the only way he can learn is from experience he’s about to encounter; I know that we never know until we do know, and that we still never know, even then.

On the other hand, just yesterday.

Like no time has passed. Continuous. Ever-present.

Like the me in the mirror is the same I’ve always seen, even though I know that image changes through wardrobes and facial hair and summer tans and the occasional scrape or frown.

Forever ago, and just yesterday.

Is this seemingly irreconcilable paradox what we quietly tell ourselves is “holding us back” from whatever desire, dream, endeavor or goal we can intangibly imagine?

Is it what latches us to the past, one we say that we cannot wish to kill more and yet cannot stop keeping alive by thinking about it, telling its story, breathing oxygen into its empty lungs?

Is it what paralyzes us from embracing the terrifyingly simple reality that this moment is the moment: the only one that there ever was, and the only one that ever will be?

Time.

It’s a curious thing.

But, you know what they say.

There’s no better time but today…

Flickr photo credit openDemocracy

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