You know that frustrating/humiliating moment when someone captures in one paragraph the essence of something you’ve been trying to express for years? The worst part about it is that you now have to recycle that same paragraph every time you write about that topic because it is so achingly, irresistibly beautiful.
“Consider a single piece glowing in your family’s stove. That chunk of coal was once a green plant, a fern or a reed that lived one million years ago, or maybe two million, or maybe one hundred million. Every summer for the whole life of that plant, its leaves caught what light they could and transformed the sun’s energy into itself. Into barks, twigs, stems. But then the plant died and fell, probably into water, and decayed into peat folded inside the earth for years upon years – eons in which something like a month or a decade or even your whole life was just a puff of air, a snap of two fingers. And eventually the peat dried and became like a stone, and someone dug it up, and the coal man brought it to your house, and maybe you yourself carried it to the stove, and now that sunlight – sunlight one hundred million years old – is heating your home tonight.” – Anthony Doerr, “All the Light We Cannot See”
Firstly, if you haven’t yet read that book, please do your soul a favor and get it off Amazon or something. If you have read it, please don’t say anything because I’m only half way through.
Anyway, back to the point. I’ve written before about time. About how relentlessly it marches on and how powerless it renders us. Time is relative – it shrinks and stretches inside our minds. It doesn’t backtrack. It doesn’t pause. But it is transcendent. It bounces off one mortal to another, from one generation to the next. Maybe we don’t have to see time as an enemy. Maybe time is just a carrier of the intangibles, a vessel that transports the essence of our existence – our worries and hopes and fears – from one era to another. Time is what connects us and what makes us care about tragedies of the past and uncertainties of the future.