Friday, 4 January 2008

One more chance

One more chance

By Mahesh Dattani
Time is what makes us travel. We are all travellers in time. Another year has begun and many of us wonder "now where did the last year go?" The month, date and year have nothing to do with time really. These man-made markings are mere indicators to the real travel map of our lives. The time allotted to us on this planet. The marking of one year reminds us that our planet has made one more revolution around the Sun and our lives on the planet can be counted by a limited number of those cycles.

Given the space and age of the universe as we know it, this little rock's destiny and scale are so insignificant that it wouldn't be worth a mention if somebody were to be recording the movements of all the planets and stars across the universe.
Yet, to us humans this little pebble's elliptical trajectory is what governs our awareness and our very being. And we think we really matter. Like the dinosaurs, the human species could be extinct one day and the universe will not even tremble!

So powerful is the reality of time and space, but we rarely seem to come to grips with it. We feel we have all the time until we lose it. And then we exclaim: "Oh where did it go?"

We all know how important it is to live in the present moment. Writers and philosophers have spoken about the value of present time. That is all we truly have. Yet we preoccupy ourselves with all the events that ?affected us over the year or month or week. We allow anger to build inside us. We continue to regret the wrongs we have done to people who have left us long ago. We yearn for the youth or beauty that once belonged to us.

All our happy memories make us feel that we were better off before than we are now. And painful ones just grip us at every moment that we pause in our day-to-day activities. Something in the present remotely associated to that tragic event takes us there. It prevents us from staying here. Brave ones try to push it away but they spring out of the closet in the most unexpected ways simply because we never really let go.

The New Year is always the time for introspection and for hope and also to quote famous people on introspection and hope. Oprah Winfrey once exclaimed: "It's a new year! One more chance to get it right!" I like this one because it acknowledges the past but it's firmly grounded in what is possible now. Other appealing quotes are ones that can make the most trivial of ?activities seem important. Sometimes the most valuable use of time is when the moment is contained with a sense of sharing. "Time spent in the company of cats is never a waste." I am not a cat lover but it makes me think about it.

Which brings me to another one picked off the net: "How we spend our days, is of course, how we spend our lives." Quite ironic for me since I spent a good part of the day on the net looking for these quotes! To me it has been far more fruitful than throwing up my hands and saying, "Now where did that year go?"
The previous year went where all previous years go. It is lost forever in transit, and a lot of what happened in the past is baggage that ought to stay lost. But we keep sifting our memory to try and find things there. A famous essayist said that the future comes to us at a speed of sixty minutes an hour. But what about the past? Does it really leave us at the same speed with which the future came? The past seems to leave us at variable speeds. The more we cling on to the past, it slows down lingering like a huge truck at a traffic light turned red, spewing toxins as we stare at its ugly rear from our position in the present. The sooner we let go the quicker it speeds away from us, as if the light has just turned green. Making the red light green is the only choice we have when it comes to time.

Until we choose to make the red one green and allow time past to vanish at the speed of lightning, we cannot extend the time we have on hand. Time is relative. We may have the same amount of time as did yesterday, but the more we let go the more we can cherish what we truly have.

Emily Dickenson puts it so: "To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else."

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