You’ve got a program. More accurately, your computer has a program. You begin to enter the date and suddenly handy-dandy Word completes it for you. Thank you, Word. Until it doesn’t. What!!??!! Suddenly, every day is February 23. Which means you (or in this case I) have to think about which day it is. And then, key by key by key (oh, the labor!) insert the real date.
I wondered if my computer had decided I needed to pay more attention. Was this a Groundhog Day thing? Should I be looking at the particular day that was repeating—not, seemingly, a day so different from either the 22nd or the 24th—in a meaningful or spiritual way? Was there an action I’d taken? Had someone done something? Was it the day a prominent politician resigned in scandal? Had the police over-reached again? What should I be thinking about?
But then I decided it didn’t matter. Because no day is really the same, just as no minute is the same. No second. Can’t step into that Time River in the same place twice, even if you’re floating in it, on your back, looking up at the universe. There’s still all that flow around you, especially if you get stuck on a rock in the rapids.
Seconds and hours and minutes and days and weeks and months and years are all human constructs meant to provide comfortable markers in an otherwise un-navigable expanse of Time Sea. We humans need structure.
Out here on Earth, at the jagged edge of one of the known universes, in a planetary system on the edge of a minor collection of stars and maybe some other planets we call the Milky Way—one of a million-plus galaxies we’ve been told exist—we humans need the lifebuoys of certainty provided by the several constructs of, say, 10:03am, Saturday, July 4th, 2015. This naming convention enables us to focus on the now (Hey! It’s July 4th!!) and therefore not think about such difficult constructs as where we really are, or might be, or may be, or might not be, in 30 seconds or several moons, or in one hundred of our 365 or 366 day years when our children, to whom we’ve left all our problems, have perhaps decided not to bother.
Back in the so-called present, I instigate the universal problem solver: I re-boot my computer. And voila, as the poet says. Now today’s day and date come up just fine, thank you. So, for the moment, I can leave off pondering the future, can leave thoughts of random edges, strings of theories, and the potential logical conclusion to the problem of climate change vs. Malthusian economics. Somewhere, I hope, there’s a scientist or two working on, say, nuclear fusion, which will solve the energy crisis quite nicely. I am firm in this belief. With any luck they’ll figure out a way for us to continue to exist in our tiny corner of the cosmos, where we can continue to parse and splice the seconds to our heart’s content, sure that doing so is providing meaning to our existence while we gaze skyward and try not to think.