Writing this post is hard when I keep staring out the window. It’s dreary and drizzly, a day for sweaters and leggings and apples and tea and books. I should note that I’ve only just learned how to wear leggings and every day is a good day for tea and books.
I devote autumn to thinking about time. I’m the type of girl who has been known to ask what day it is several times a day. In my defense, people ask for the time more than once a day, and that’s considered normal.
Minutes, hours, days, years, these mean little to me. I tell time by the color of the leaves on trees or lack thereof. My days are measured in keystrokes or yoga poses, sometimes by phone conversations, other times by births and deaths and weddings and graduations. How many trips the hummingbird makes to the feeder. The distance Shadow and I go for walks. The purr and mewl of my cats.
Journal notes remind me of the end of summer: Why does it cost six bucks to get into a beach on the lake? Who ever thought up the great idea for metal lifeguard chairs? Warm Powerade tastes like warm Jell-O water before it sets. Warm Jell-O water takes me back twenty-five summers to my grandmother’s kitchen, when I measured time by the many uses for a cardboard box—a car, a castle, a place to hide, a hat to ram into the wall with, a Barbie house, a dangerous way to slide down the stairs. Crochet swimsuit equals bad tan lines, transports me back to the beach where a little kid eats a scoop of sand. All I want to do is eat some sand. The texture, not the taste, is an experience I want. The lifeguard’s whistle is half day. Two ice creams later, the lifeguards return to their posts and a mass of children charge back into the lake. Mass of children charging lake equals the way I’d like to spend the rest of my summers.
Notes from the beginning of autumn: Twelve miles on my bike, over hills, past farmhouses and cornfields equals the breaking apart of a novel, equals imagining all the people in Syria as ribbons floating from the sky as I wish them one-by-one into a better place—a peaceful future. The duration of a car ride equals passing four flags at half-mast. A nation of flags at half-mast equals the end of twelve lives. An intention for those lives equals slipping out of downward dog multiple times, a glance at a clock: 7:15, 7:39.
I measure the time before I was born by others’ lives: Plato, Cervantes, Edgar Allen Poe, Abraham Lincoln, Einstein, Hitler. This reminds me of two ideas of time that have always conflicted in my mind: nothing is permanent and energy cannot be created or destroyed.
Nothing is permanent. People come and go from my life. I have learned to be thankful for the part of their life they spend in mine and learned to let them go without asking for more. Everything dies, ceases to exist, ends. That is, these people and objects move from a state I am familiar with into a state I am not. I first read No Death, No Fear Comforting Wisdom for Life by Thich Nhat Hanh, fifty-eight blog posts, four stories, one screenplay, one-third novel, and half a thesis ago. I found the book, or the book found me, when I most needed it. I return to its knowledge because I forgot that these people never truly leave. Even friendships lost return to me when I see crocks, Sailor Jerry, golf on TV, macaroons, lab-created sapphires, or ketchup and mustard on a sidewalk. Friendships return in the form of a ToDo list that entails tearing up an apartment then eating a sandwich that makes my breath stink.
There is no coming, no going.
All that exists always exists. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed. Manifestations arise when the conditions are right. Manifestations arise when they are needed. Radio waves float around my head. I am only conscious of Justin Timberlake’s voice when a radio is present to transform those waves into a familiar sound. What else exists, undetectable to my senses, waiting for the perfect conditions to arise?
Autumn winds twist and turn the leaves beyond my window. In them I see Syria, Einstein, children running toward a lake, flags at half-mast, the wish I make when I pass fountains, keystrokes, green gone gold. Trials of Van Occupanther by Midlake plays four times for these seven hundred and ninety five words. Autumn winds are the sound of your voice reading this post.
No coming, no going.
The true meaning of time, life.