Each word written, and here a pause, represents at least a second. This sentence, about fifteen seconds. It's spent time, not necessarily lost, but irretrievable. The reader, having now read these three lines, has also spent his or her time, grains of sand that silently flow from the globe of a life span. The globe of the future and the present, into the globe of the past. There the grains of sand represent all that we have learnt, our actions, experiences, thoughts and sentiments. Memories of life's trials and adventures, hardships and achievements. Ambitions, aspirations, failures and delusions. They can also represent words, pictures, mediocre accomplishments or monumental feats. And sometimes
chef d'œuvres. Only the latter can defy the rigours of time, at least for as long as time grants existence to civilisation.

One invariably returns to this fascinating (timeless) theme, especially when one hasn't much conception of it. My mother once said, 'It's strange but I still feel as though I were 35 years old'. She was already in her eighties at the time. If time allows us the good fortune, we understand perfectly what she meant, this feeling of elation, the love of life, and perhaps the comfortable accordance with Picasso, who once said, 'it takes time to be young'.

Yet time is a paradox. He is as kind as he is cruel. He gives and takes. He allows the shedding of brilliant light and the casting of dark shadow. Without judgement or discrimination he allocates his generosity just as much to good as to evil.

Kindly, he allows one to develop, to wake up to past errors, to study, perhaps to eventually learn the merits of humility, and to begin to understand the meaning of life. Unkindly he also accords the same privilege of development to disease and illness.
When the brain, often too preoccupied by time, becomes time's victim, he can be mercifully expedient. But just as often, he can be ruthlessly cruel.
In the latter case one has to be incredibly strong to retain, in a protected corner of one's mind and being, a vestige of that force of character, the ultimate essence of oneself, with the love that one has lived for, right up until the very end.

Somewhere in time, a windy summer's day, an English beach on the east coast; after swimming at high tide, her brother is shocked to discover that he has lost the keys of his car. He is certain that he had them in a small pocket of his swimming trunks.
Time passes. The sun casts longer shadows, and the ebbed tide has left a wide, glistening expanse of smooth, wet sand.
She asks him whereabouts he was swimming. Everyone laughs. She insists. Her brother impatiently shrugs and indicates roughly where he believes he was. She slowly walks down towards the sea in the indicated direction. No one pays any attention. They are shaking the sand from beach towels and preparing to leave. She looks about her as if she is judging distances. She walks back a little way, then again she looks slightly to her right and left. She suddenly fixes a point about a couple of yards from where she's standing. She crouches down and starts to dig a little hole in the wet sand with her fingers. Incredibly, but in her case, naturally, she finds the keys.

Right up until the very end. The protected corner that commands the will to choose how to live and how to die. That magic power of will capable of accomplishing miracles, and finally dictating to, and smiling at Time...

(Time for a short vacation, just for a week. Let me also take this occasion to thank the growing number of readers for their interest in Viewfinder).

Text and image © Mirino, July, 2011

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