Sunday, December 7, 2008

First Lines

There are some wonderful first lines in books. Two of the best that I recall are, “The Frenchman beside me had been dead since dawn.” – from, “Martin Conisby’s Vengence” by Jeffrey Farnol. Then there is the one I like best which is from “The Arches of the Years” by Halliday Sutherland. The book opens with, “Wanted – a detective to arrest the flight of time.” Wow! It is always an advantage to open a book with a good ‘punch line’, people remember it long after the contents are forgotten. In fact in this instance I don’t believe I ever read the book, I just remember the title and the opening sentence.

But why arrest the flight of time? That would mean to have things and events stay as they were and not to move on, not to grow, not to develop. That would lead to a very poor life outcome indeed. To keep things as they are at present would mean to deny the dynamic that is Life. Life is always present and must always be expressed. That is why there are so many life forms on the planet – all expressing Life. And every life form has its purpose, its reason for existence, all growing in different ways, in different environments. All are threaded together in an amazingly complex web or pattern that we, mere mortals, cannot hope to fully comprehend. Yet without any deep knowledge of Life and its complexity, we are quite prepared to kill Life forms and destroy habitats that support those selfsame Life forms.

All Life forms are interrelated and have a symbiotic relationship in that the sum is greater than the individual parts. We are all, all of us, guilty of the same lack of real concern, of the same propensity to consume – regardless of the ‘cost’; of the same desire to keep things as they were (i.e. we all want job security, don’t we?). No one people are any better than any other. Take for instance the Japanese. They have an ancient culture, they have a wonderful history of poetry, of art, a highly developed appreciation of beauty – their gardens, their bonsai trees, their calligraphy, and yet they slaughter whales and dolphins because of ‘tradition’! The British go fox hunting, because of ‘tradition’. We as children are often ‘expected’ to enter the same form of employment as our parents. We often vote for a particular political party because of the family ‘tradition’ – we have always voted that way!!

Many, many patterns of behaviour are followed in families and communities because that is the way ‘we’ have always behaved. There is little or no thought as to the ‘why’ and whether there are any advantages to be gained by trying to keep things as they were. I mean the Amish in America – refusing to allow TV into their communities and still using horse and buggies – trying to keep things as they always were - are fighting a losing battle. It is quaint and cute in a way (actually I suppose horses and buggies aren’t such a bad idea with today’s high fuel prices), but very limiting. To wish for the ‘old times’ because they have some romantic appeal is to believe in something unreal – wishful thinking. It may be comforting to try to maintain what was. No one really likes the unknown, which is what Life throws up at us on a daily basis. We like to be in our comfort zone, the unknown can be very scary, very confronting. Yet we have to live and life is dynamic and always changing.

What was, is history, and can never be brought back. This present moment is the only ‘time’ that we can actually experience anything and live ‘in’. We cannot live in the past – it has gone. We cannot live in the future – it has not yet arrived. We have no other option than to live NOW and now is always changing, it is always becoming the past (or the future). We cannot ‘arrest the flight of time’.

1 comment:

Brock Atkinson said...

"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."