tick-tock-tick


POSTCARD#283: Delhi: We’re clearing away everything from this house, piece by piece. Today is exactly two weeks to the time we have to vacate the premises, and the demolishers enter our rooms with their steel hammers, remove ceiling fans, knock out windows and doors, then take down the entire building bit by bit, clouds of brick dust rise and rubble everywhere. World coming to an end, collapsing like a dead star, all matter reduced to the size of an atom and gone in a flash.

Time is just slipping away, I pause for a moment to look at the little clock we brought back from Switzerland: tick-tock-tick-tock-tick-tock, pendulum madly dashing to-and-fro for the last three years without a stop. The strange urgency of it going on unnoticed like this, all through the days and nights and times I’ve been away. This time we go away and we’re not coming back. The Swiss clock goes on measuring out the time until somebody takes it off the wall, removes the battery from its tiny wooden compartment, and it’s placed in a box wrapped in bubble wrap.

But the time for that is not here yet – tick-tock-tick – there’s only an awareness of the pause, before it happens. Future time slides into present time; tomorrow becomes today, and the ‘now’ falls back into yesterday. The sound of the clock, tick-tock-tick is the context for a sort of back-to-the-future thing. The ‘now’ I experience at this moment was the future for me when I was in the past.

Where are we now? Let’s see, time stretched out to include packing of suitcases, filling of boxes, things ticked off the list, but the whole project is too large, it’s nowhere near being completely done yet. I’m held in the awareness of the pause before it gets here – a shavingth of an instant before it does. If I say there’s a beginning, I create linear time. Without that starting point there’s no causality, no ending, no beginning – the empty space of what it could be, held for as long as it takes me to notice it’s there.

Gathering up objects and labelling with a code so the shipping company can pack them in the correct boxes. Language creates an identity for things, and they become events in space-time, ‘this’ happened here, ‘that’ happened there, (but) ‘there isn’t a that without a this, and the that is essentially inseparable from the this.’

What I was thinking about disappears in the space between things, and I fall back into the emptiness of no thought, the observed world and the observer of it… where does it go from here? It feels like this moment is just one screenshot taken in the making of a video about my whole life… well, I suppose that’s what it is. The seeing of it happens, and I can’t ‘unsee’ it. I am the context for what it is. Parts of me in disarray, deconstructed, the opposite of a catastrophe.

Bags and cases lay open, clothes taken from wardrobes, folding and placing, folding again. Unfold, enfold, enclose, embrace, wrap, package, I am my name only; the ‘me’ I live with. Not a substantial thing – there’s a fragility about it – sometimes not there at all. If I’m curiously adrift in a future time, a place of speculative conjecture and hypothetical likelihoods, the constant sweeping along of things brings me back always to the place I set off from, to see what remains to be done… there’s an alertness, sensory mechanisms waiting for things to happen – it’s in their nature to do that. The awareness is all there is.

“…Not a single particle out “there” exists with real properties until it’s observed… reality is a process that involves consciousness.” [Robert Lanza]


 gratitude to blogging friends for the discussion on past, present and future time

14 thoughts on “tick-tock-tick

    • It’s a bit like that when I’m writing them. Most of the work is done in the editing, like a piece of sculpture in stone – chipping away at the block in order for the form to be liberated.

  1. What are we doing with each present moment? Are we practicing love and attempting to make the world a more loving place? Or, are we making sure we pursue our own personal gratification with earnest as each moment that passes means we are one moment closer to the end of the ride?

    • Thanks Larryzb and welcome here. The way I see it, ‘we’ are the latter. It’s called consumerism, a docile work force, fed with sugared foods, crude alcohol and television – it’s a miracle anyone manages to get through the net. But they do, of course and maybe the Way to go is through the shared subjectivity of practicing love in order to make the world a more loving place…

    • Thanks Tom, yes it’s like this, and what we are reaching for is a totally different view of time and space, self and other. The tendency is to seek liberation in a context that’s still part of the illusion. It needs to be outside of social conditioning, based on a mutually understood fundamental integrity…

    • Interesting thought, a different concept altogether I suppose. I saw a documentary once that made reference to this. Clocks had been invented, but in the early days of the US, it was the railway that created a synchronised form. Before that passengers just went to the train station and waited, maybe all day. I suppose it’s still like that in remote townships in rural India, I see here sometimes.

      • Less hectic, definitely. More like an entirely different frame of mind, probably… and thanks for pointing this out. I imagine long periods of just being there, mind occupied with the contemplation of ordinary things…

  2. “The ‘now’ I experience at this moment was the future for me when I was in the past.” This always stops me in my tracks. I remember sitting in the kitchen of my Mom’s apartment listening to clock, obsessed with the tick tock of the present slipping away. But you go one step further, to no self, the brilliance of your posts. To think that a place that was “home” will be destroyed, Yes, it will come to this for us all. Emptying an apartment destroys a “home” to a mere container of four walls. It will come to this for us all. At the moment the hurricane victims and refugees are living in the midst of nothing. We humans are so vulnerable. And one man among the rubble of the Virgin Isles is smiling and the interviewer asks how he can smile and he says, “Because I am alive.” A valuable lesson in the miracle of life.

    • The hurricane swept through my mind (everyone’s mind) and has had its effect on the last three posts, really without my knowing it. It happens that we’re seeing our belongings gathered in all the wrong places in preparation for the movers, in a form I could say is a benign catastrophe. Letting go to the extreme when I think of the demolishing company waiting in the wings for the tenants to leave. For us it’s part of our relinquishment; giving our things away and in the process, finding we are coming closer to the actuality of no-self. Travel light, it makes it easier to give up everything when our time comes. The willingness is a key factor, as we gradually see it all being swept away, there’s a vision of how the hurricane victims saw their environment devastated. Theirs, of course, a nightmare hard to imagine…

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