Saturday, August 21, 2010

Time is the Hunter

The stealthiest predator of all is the ravening beast we call Time. We, Its credulous prey, know It's there but we're unable or unwilling to grasp Its true approach speed or proximity. It's as if Time has, as part of Its predator skill set, the ability to delude us into a Heisenbergian fallacy where we are able to ascertain neither Its location nor Its speed. That just seems unfair. Shouldn't prey animals have a bit of a chance? Couldn't we at least have one accurate factor a la Heisenberg?

Huh? What's that? Oh, it's Time; but it's ok, It's way over there. Oh shit! No, It's not sitting still over there; It's accelerating and almost here! Now! And we're once again surprised and once again consumed by the apex predator of the universe and once again His stalk begins anew. Time disdains Hypnos and Morpheus; he respects only Thanatos.

There have been occasions when Time struck at me like a Carcharodon carcharias, sneaking in to take a single bite while I was otherwise distracted, leaving me to come to the realization well afterwards that I'd been struck and that a piece of my life had been torn away without my noticing. There was a day when I realized, after the fact, that both girls were out of diapers and would never need them again.

The skulking shark, Time, had sped in, bitten away that milestone, and absconded with it, while I lay oblivious on life's surfboard. Looking back from the beach at that missing chunk of my life is not the same as apprehending the event when it happened.

I am, of course, partly to blame for this. Just as Time can do naught but fulfill Its nature as the ur-predator, I'm afraid that my essential nature is to live in the past, the future, or the possible, while rarely inhabiting the now; so, I tend to miss things which are going on right under my nose, like being stalked by rapacious Time. Of course, Time is not limited to a single tactic, It is polutropos to the extent that Odysseus himself, described in the first line of The Odyssey as "andra polutropon" would feel like a one-trick pony. Yes, The Great Hunter Time is a wily beast, always taking from us like a hateful Harpy, but seemingly never satisfied, like Tantalus.

Ronnie and I have been talking casually for a while now about that mysterious demense called Empty Nest. We knew of its existence and we knew it was not all that distant from us, with MJ turning 18 in September and Chloe only 18 months behind. It seemed to me some sort of anomaly/curiosity of mathematics, an interesting variant of 18-squared, fraught with hidden, nonEuclidian meaning. We could sense that Empty Nest was within range, in the same way that when you're on the open ocean you can see clouds forming over an island which is itself still below your visible horizon but the clouds are a distinct adumbration of its existence and proximity.

In this instance, Time did not surface as a shark from the stygian sphere, silent, swift, seeking satiation. Eschewing subtlety, Time arrived like Dick Butkus jamming the A-hole by plugging it with the crushed body of the ball carrier. [Ok, I know it's usually referred to as the 1 hole and/or the A gap but c'mon! I couldn't pass up a cheap shot like that!]

There I was, the metaphoric running back knowing that my number had been called, staring across the gulf called the Line of Scrimmage at the flat, soulless eyes of Dick Butkus, Time incarnate; but I felt that I had some control, some input, something to contribute to the upcoming play. I had a plan. I had blockers. I was in a short-yardage situation and I knew where I was going. I knew Butkus/Time would eventually get me but I was confident that I could cover some ground that I wanted to cover before He did.

The ball is snapped and I take the handoff, ready to accelerate out of the backfield and gain those few years yards before He can get a grip on me. I'm looking downfield to my intended goal. Catch me if you can, Butkus!

Then I'm looking up at the clear, blue sky, still deep within my own backfield, and groaning as Dick Butkus levers himself off me, smiling and drooling thick spittle onto my now-empty hands as He takes the ball from my impact-numbed grip. Prey, meet Predator.

Captain Williard to infantryman, "Soldier, do you know who's in charge here?"
Infantryman replies, "Yeah."
(Dialog from Apocalypse Now)

Time is a Great White shark, striking quietly from below. Time is a pack of Compsognathids, striking multiply and endlessly. Time is the Spanish Lady, striking from within your own body. Time is motherfucking Dick Butkus jamming you in the A-hole.

My babies are adults and I thought I expected it but I guess I didn't really. I like it but it's requiring a little internal adjustment.

Kitchen kids

Sophisticated women at Lake Garda, Italy


  1. Anything we need to know Frank? Obituary photos and passing of time...

    Go get drunk.

  2. GOod luck with that internal adjusting. This reminds me of becoming a parent- I knew what was coming and thought I was prepared but it hit me hard. I look forward to your hearing about all that comes next for you. Love you.

  3. I kinda thought I could outwit the hunter by stringing them out. 14 years between first and last, and yet, here we are, my babies are 18 and I'm still not ready.