“Time will make it better,” my friend said when I confided I’ve been nursing a deep hurt. It was good advice, of course. Other options were ruled out early on; I am morally and pragmatically opposed to retribution (big pacifist, that’s me), and the thought of escalation makes the hurt even worse. Roman philosopher Seneca the Younger said time heals what reason cannot. And since I haven’t been able to reason my way through this, I’ll just wait.
“Time will make it better.”
Some things are not made better by time, especially when time is combined with gravity. The other day I caught myself staring at a lovely young woman to whom Mother Nature had been very kind, bosom-wise. And while I’m generally not prone to snarkiness, I couldn’t stop this thought from rolling around in my head: “Rome fell, and one day, Honey, those will too.”
Time is both friend and enemy, both kind and cruel. I curse the years I can see in my face, but only by living through those years have I built relationships, collected memories, clarified ideals, and gained confidence. The same years are also littered with a trail of bitter regrets. Please God, the birds will eat those crumbs before they can be followed back to my soul.
How many ways have we humans tried to bend time and mold it to suit our needs? Daylight savings time, halftime, overtime, bedtime, time in a bottle, time to do your homework, time to get a job, time to grow up, put up, or shut up. Time travel has inspired countless books and movies— and though they sometimes leave me confused, I confess a desire to skip ahead just far enough to know how certain things are played out and to know that certain wounds are healed.
Some people say time is money, but I think time is music. As a music student I learned about rhythm, tempo, beat, cadence, measures, and the difference between 4/4 time and 3/4 time. The Rolling Stones had time on their side, Jim Croce saved time in a bottle, The Eagles worried that it was all just wasted time, and The Edgar Winter Group all had a real good time. The Zombies proclaimed 1968 to be the time for the season of loving, although in 1968 I was too young to understand exactly what they were talking about. Cyndi Lauper promised to catch me time after time, Green Day wished me the time of my life, and Foo Fighters claimed it’s times like these that make me learn to live again. And Beck—he had a time bomb, but more on that later.
The ancient Greeks had two words for time: chronos and kairos. Chronos meant chronological time, while kairos refered to an indeterminate, immeasurable period of time during which something special happens. My favorite definition of time appears on the BBC homepage, although no author is credited:
Time is the distance between here and there; in other words, the space in between. It is the amount a person can age in a day or it is the day itself. Whenever the sun changes position, an increment of time has passed.
People judge time by the position of the sun, the hands of a clock or the glowing liquid crystal display of their digital watches. Time is not relative, but everyone has their own opinion as to what time it is. Time is very important to people, but once it is used, it can never be taken back. There is always a steady flow of time which scientists have forever been trying to control and stop.
Many people run their lives by time, and never stop to see what a life they are missing. Time can be the enemy when a person is late for the third time in a row and someone is hogging the road. It can be the enemy when the alarm wakes a person from blissful sleep in the morning, and forces them to realise reality once again. Time is a friend when anxious students stare at the clock counting the seconds before the end of the school day, or even the busy worker who desires to be anywhere but the little box he lives in called a cubicle or work station.
Time cannot really be defined. It can only be spent or looked forward to or remembered fondly.
Here’s a question: If time heals, then should we refer to the cooling of a love affair as being healed? We’ve all known those heady, desperate, randy, all-consuming feelings of new love, and the inevitable mellowing of those feelings. It’s not necessarily that we’ve lost our love, but that time (and seratonin) has restored equilibrium to a life that was temporarily thrown out of balance by a flood of dopamine. That might sound terribly unromantic, but it’s the same process that allows grief to fade—and who would argue against that kind of healing?
“Time will make it better.”
My friend’s advice echoes the words of Blaise Pascal: Time heals griefs and quarrels, for we change and are no longer the same persons. Neither the offender nor the offended are any more themselves. I’m not afraid of changing for the better, in fact I would welcome a cleansing change. Perhaps time doesn’t actually heal our wounds, but allows enough scar tissue to overgrow them so that the pain lessens. And maybe it’s not time at all, but how we use the time that matters.
Right now it’s time for Beck and his Timebomb: