“Where was my today?” Exploring the words of time’s horizon

By | March 20, 2021

Have I spent the last 15 years like the White Rabbit in Alice’s Wonderland, forever late to the Mad Hatter’s tea party?

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” ~ J.R.R. Tolkein

This is what it felt like when I reached the end of my previous post. Where have all my todays I gone, I wondered, and then wandered off to ponder on my own, away from the keyboard before now returning to face the screen again. Have I spent too long pondering the ‘what might be’ to ever pause long enough to contemplate ‘what is’?

On one hand, this may be the dark side of immersing oneself in the realm of what is best known as ‘innovation’ – a step beyond invention, innovation has always experimented with the novel and the unknown. What are the myriads of possibilities lying ahead of the probability tree of decisions taken in the now? And, what are the potentials inherent in the conceptual directions of the current moment?

For anyone who has done little but think of questions like these and more alongside them – what is possible to make or create from what is available at hand right now – as a constant companion to their daily life’s work and mental activity, I wonder if the downside of forever contemplating the novel and the unknown is a little noticed wearing away of their sense of the now – their presence in the present moment, wholly and completely as the mindfulness gurus would have it?

On the other hand, one can navel gaze regardless of the moment in time on which one positions the focus of one’s contemplation. I have often said that infinity is but one singular moment in time. And, that it is. But it is undeniable to me that it has been more than a decade since I paused here at the keyboard to look up unseeingly into space in order to actually experience the sensation that first led me to coin the phrase. When I do do so, I can sense that there are a few different thought exercises one can play. And, whether I explore them all in this one post, or simply list them out for later exploration is something I’ll allow myself to discover as the simultaneous act of thinking and writing goes on.

One clearly relates to the whole idea of time as linear and progress as forward momentum along that continuum of linearity. A core concept of Western Enlightenment, it is one that I have walked around the edges of before, in order to explore its limitations and its vulnerabilities. Can ideas have a lifespan? Could this concept of unquestioning forward momentum have reached the end of its days? Have we not all connected together to now be able to go beyond the sense of Either Or choices on Time and the way it is perceived – in Hofsteder’s cultural context – and consider Both And options for what Progress might mean? The days of the global zeitgeist being dominated by one perspective and viewpoint for humanity’s evolution might well be past their end by date as well.

Another thought exercise on contemplating the nature of infinity as one single moment in time relates to the concept of standing still – as opposed to variations in the way time moves and in which direction, as given in the paragraph above, which still holds artificially induced movement as an inherent characteristic of the concept of time in itself. That is, if one stood still – infinitely in the moment – would it imply pausing time’s artefacts such as progress and momentum, or the calendar’s deadlines? For one thing that my exposure to life in rural and informal contexts – especially in Africa – has taught me, its the fact that the calendar does not make the decisions but the earth’s natural seasons, the climate and the weather patterns, the environment and its evolving and changing forms, as well as the cycles of birth and death experienced by the planet’s life forms.

I think that I have no answers that I can arrive at here and now. But I do recognize that contemplating these thoughts will be a necessary part of the larger work that I must do during this liminal time – in particular, as a facet of attempting to change the focal length of my gaze. Going back to that inflection point of exploring life’s directions embodied by September 2005, here’s a taste of Dr Barbara Schaetti’s writing, quoted from my post titled “Living in Liminality“,

Living in liminality encourages complex, multiplistic perspectives. [Global nomad’s] daily experiences persuade them to think in terms of “both/and” rather than “either/or.” Liminality reinforces that it is a blessing to be able to “dance in-between,” with a foot planted gently in each reality. Liminality is the byword of a self-reflexive human being.

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