Every year, as we near mid-August, I wait for the sound of their passing; this morning, while the sky was still drowsy and damp with dew, I heard the long familiar call and response of Canadian geese flying overhead, leaving their summer homes and beginning the long southward journey. Their distinctive honk signifies the close of summer and the approach of autumn.
In just a few short weeks we will be mid-way through the solar year and nearly three-quarters through the calendar. I noticed Halloween decorations set out at the local dollar store yesterday. The craft store are already displaying Christmas merchandise. In their haste to capture our purchasing dollars, retailers are speeding up holiday celebrations faster than ever. Christmas in July may soon be a reality.
I have hardly become accustomed to acknowledging this is 2017, and, seemingly, in a few days I will be struggling to write 2018 on the rent check – in fact, the only actual check I now write as all other bills paid through online banking. Paying the monthly bills by check was a built-in time-keeper for me; I would notice months passage as the balance in my check book rose and fell like a tide.
Now it is rarely necessary to date anything. When I start to type the date on a document, the computer completes it for me. When I need a calendar, Google supplies it. The ubiquitous At-A-Glance datebook and organizers of the 90’s can now only be found on the dusty shelves of thrift stores, right beside pocket calculators, Walk Man’s and display cases of tarnished watches.
I myself no longer wear a watch to mark the passage of the hours. It is only when I have an appointment that time watching is necessary, in which case I refer to the cell phone I now use as a watch. Its call functions are required only for emergencies for there is no one I wish to talk to. I have no person to ask if I should stop for bread or milk, no one’s opinion I defer to, no one to alert if I am running late. Molly the Cat, waiting at the door and already aware of my arrival time due to her finely honed psychic abilities, will never complain that I didn’t call.
In this age of instant communication our ability to pause, to consider, to wait is becoming obsolete as is the virtue of patience. Instant gratification is no longer a serendipitous boon but an expected entitlement. It seems we are exchanging and sharing information in nanoseconds; we reach conclusions while barely formulating our questions. It feels as if the whole world has become electrified, as if the human race has been plugged into a cosmic current that just gets faster and faster. Time as we have known it is disappearing.
Have we lost the need to track time? Are we approaching that state of nirvana in which all time is the Present? In our headlong rush into tomorrow, does yesterday no longer exist? Are we in such a rush to get from point B to point C to point M, that all stops in between are merging into a time warping blur. Will we soon be feeling the wind of the cosmic train even before we embark?
Whereas I once noticed how quickly the months were passing, I now wonder where whole years have gone. Wasn’t it spring just a few weeks ago? Wasn’t it a few years past that I was a girl? And so I wonder – does time really pass, does time fly, does it heal? Do we really make time, take time, save time, spend time, keep time, waste time, kill time or lose time? Is time really a triumvirate comprised of past, present and future? Or has the flight of geese overhead finally shattered time’s illusions?