A Limitless Supply
There are people much smarter than me who’ve spent their entire lives studying time. From what I understand, there are still no definite answers about what it is, or how we can fix it, pin it down, staple it to the floor, or put it under a microscope and squeeze it until it busts its gut, reveals its secrets.
We’re stuck with our own experience of it, our own murky, muddy, limitless wonderment.
I’m one of those people, one of those ones who has made the tiresome comment more than once that time just seems to keep flying by, faster and faster. The days went on forever when I was a kid, sometimes they wouldn’t end no matter how much I wished they would. “Please, please, please, I’ll do all my chores and not think mean thoughts and finish my dinner, just let it be tomorrow, so I can [open my presents, start school again, go to camp, go to the swimming pool, etc, etc].”
How casually I spent my seconds and minutes and hours then, tossing them around like crumbs for the birds, as if I had a limitless supply.
Let’s be honest, though. I’m only thirty. It’s probably a little pre-mature to be lamenting like this. But if you know me at all, you know I tend to fill my days, or rather overfill my days, with tasks, to dos, discrete and presumably necessary steps on the way toward some thing, some goal, some idea. I don’t know where I got it. Well, I have my suspicions, as do others, but there it is, regardless – that’s what I do. Time, for me, now, is like a stock ticker, one of those early 20th century stock tickers that spits out an endless paper tape recording every tiny shift and change. I have my lists, my agendas, my calendars, my emails, my folders, my filing cabinets, my project notebooks, my rosters, my journals, all of it, the whole nine. Me and time, these days we’re always on a mission, we always think we’re going somewhere. Rarely do we lose track of one another.
Facing a blank sixty seconds, a small trough of unattended time, I blinked, I looked around, I remembered when it was different and wondered about when it will be like that again. I looked at those I know for whom it’s different. I wondered about all of us, moving through time in parallel, each with our own relationship to it, our own trajectories. I thought particularly of those still new to time, the very young, the uninitiated. And those supposing they are at the end of time, who have already spent it in ways that are countless. Near the beginning and near the end, when time can still expand and contract, where sixty seconds can feel like a single breath, or a whole lifetime. That’s what the compression of time made me think of – less the space between than the beginning and the end.
I wondered about the difference, the fact that all of us there in the room will live very differently within that space – the audience, the conductor, the actors, the characters themselves, those waiting for cues and those watching them unfolded. Each carrying a different melody, a different tempo, a different time.
Duet in Three Movements is an exploration of time, of the ways we use it, the ways we lose it, and how we learn to maneuver through it.