The river Taff
The River Taff (the nearest river to where Bruce is writing.)

122. The Cliché of Time

“March Snakeskin will be a special number full of poems about Time. Treat the subject any way you care to.”
                                                              - George Simmers

         “But to what purpose
Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
I do not know.”
                                                                   - T.S. Eliot

I, for the life of me, cannot make sense of Time. I do not understand Time, only feel it. This is an incomplete observation. An essential quality is missing in my grasp of reality. I am forced to confront the limitations of my intelligence. Not just Time, but other dimensions, too. For example, I cannot grasp Consciousness, cannot even find the words to describe it.

What I do understand is that we are forever barred from the past. We can bring memories to mind. We can read what has been written, see what was filmed, or listen to a sound recording. We can analyze and interpret fossils. We can diagnose the most distant past from radiation that reaches our telescopes. We can remember it, we can commemorate it, but we cannot live it.

I also understand that we cannot live the future before it arrives. All too often we squander the precious present by waiting for the future in anticipation or anxiety. I’ve made it my philosophy to try and not waste the moment because the moment is lost in an instant, becoming unrecoverable. I fail all the time.

If I were to put this essay into the context of its Time, in the history in which I find myself living, President Putin has launched his invasion of the Ukraine. This preoccupies my thoughts today. I am disgusted with Putin. Despite what all the educated world knows about history and war, I cannot forgive Putin from bringing this kind of war into the 21st century, especially when the world needs to bond to save the planet. Putin divides and distracts. This is the Time in which I live and write, anticipating and anxious.

Good or bad, “This, too, shall pass away.” Such is Time.

Although I am unable to describe or explain Time, I will resort to the metaphor, the cliché, of describing it as a river. We have been using this metaphor at least since Heraclitus in Ionia and Confucius in China.

When I was still a teen and reading Hermann Hesse, I felt an appeal to emulate Siddhartha, who in Hesse’s book, retires to the riverside to learn from the river. When you are young, you think a comprehension of reality is not too far away. I wanted to believe Hesse. I wanted to copy his Siddhartha and sit by a river until I arrived at an understanding of reality. What can the river teach? It is just a metaphor reducing what we could possibly know into a simpler thing that is not Time itself. A river does not explain the qualities of reality that are beyond the mind’s reach. It does not make the missing pieces apparent.

It is too long ago for me to remember the book, but I believe Siddhartha found contentment by the river. Of course rivers do not always behave and sometimes flood their banks to wash away any masters of meditation sitting cross-legged at the riverside.

All that is left to me is to embrace the mystery and reshape my attitude so as to enjoy it. Instead of Siddhartha, I choose to identify more with Claude Monet, experiencing the River Seine from his Studio Boat (Le Bateau-atelier). Monet is often my favorite artist. His floating studio serves near perfectly as a metaphor for my life now. I visualize myself in a floating studio on Time’s river, but penning prose instead of painting what is experienced.

Mr Bentzman will continue to report here regularly about the events and concerns of his life. If you've any comments or suggestions,
he would be pleased to hear from you. 

You can find his several books at Enshrined Inside Me, his second collection of essays, is now available to purchase.