Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Aeschylus on Time


We measure time in events. Births and deaths set firm roots. September 11th and Pearl Harbor. Holidays find their place, sometimes in vague remembrance of a feeling we once had or wished would come again.

Today is Wednesday. Nothing special or any reason to cement it in memory.

A man in his elder years, white tufts of hair playing out the grip of a hat that has seen better days, steps off the curb to cross the road. He stares straight, always keeping his destination in mind, one foot in front of the other. His navy wind breaker clings to him where it is pushed by the wind. An irritating mist of rain fills the air, dampening everything.

Time has nearly loved him dry though, the skin of his cheeks cracked by creases, worn leather, spotted here and there with marks. He does not see them as blemishes, just ticks on the clock he can not wind himself or unwind. His flat house shoes scuff the pavement as he passes, already the WALK sign counting down at a pace he can not match.

Car engines growl from their restraints huffing clouds of breath. One driver talks animatedly on his cell phone, his hands casting care like spells in the air. Coffee is sipped now that it's cooled enough and wont burn the lips. Children in the back of a van get their moms attention, she watching them in the rear view mirror.

The man shuffles on nearly three quarters of the way when the light turns green.

The inside lane veers around to keep moving, the outer already feeling left behind inches forward a bit to ensure he knows what he is doing to them. Somewhere back down the line, someone honks, perhaps unable to see what causes the hold up but feels the rising anxiety at the injustice of the moment creeping their spine, one bone at a time.

Time is a fluid thing, slipping through your fingers, elusive to any hold you might feel entitled to, easily lost among the debris we capture in our pockets. We trade it, this for that like commodities, based on our needs or wants in the moment. A yes here means a no there and if you are lucky at the end of the day you have just a bit to do what you want with, unless you find yourself wasting it waiting in traffic.

Still one foot on the asphalt, the other on the sidewalk the dam breaks, unable or unwilling to hold any longer, passing within inches of the seat of his corduroys. Having made it, he breaths a few quick breaths to cool the flush on his face, then turns left.

No one will remember this day or understand any hidden significance to a man crossing the road and after the emotion has passed they will no longer feel the need to bring up at the water cooler the reason they were late. But one day they will cross a road, feel the warm breath on their necks, eyes only on a destination and if they survive to the other side, perhaps then they will and appreciate each movement of the sweeping hands all the more.

Just not on a Wednesday, which bears little significance.

Tick. Tick. Tick.


97 comments:

Daniel said...

If I could give out awards for a piece, this would get one in several categories! Absolutely loved it and felt it deep within.

redemptionsbeauty said...

Oh my. I agree with Daniel. Such a vivid picture with deep meaning you wrote here. I want to stand up and clap. Bravo my friend. Just lovely writing!

California Girl said...

I read this twice just to take it all in. I could feel that man, those cars, the anxiety, the relief. He was my father, he was my grandfather, he was me.

Sue said...

One of your best.

Period.

=)

Friko said...

Excellent, Brian.

Because we can't see time, we disregard it. There's nothing tangible to get hold of, so we spend it with both hands, never giving the moment a moment's thought.

Spending time being considerate is a waste of time for so many. Until, as you say, they become that old man crossing the road.

Goat said...

Best prose I've read in weeks. Maybe all year. Completely unselfconscious. The metaphor of time slipping in and out unpredictably. And something important to say. Nice, Brian.

JANU said...

speechless. just WQW!

happygirl said...

My heart aches for the elderly. I see my future in each line on their faces. I fear each generation cares and respects less and less. This tugged at my heart so hard. This moved me.

Rae said...

That was awesome. So descriptive. The words jumped off the page with imagery...and so much truth in them too. What talent you have for writing - a gift many of us can only wish for.

Mxwll said...

"Time has nearly loved him dry..." I love that line. Although I am a recent reader and a fledgling writer, I find your posts educationally compelling from a stylistic perspective. ..is that enough big words?
In other words, really freakin' good.

Lisa notes... said...

I love getting lost in your stories, Brian. No exception with this one.

"Time has nearly loved him dry"
That phrase stood out to me too (many do).

rosaria said...

You slowed time here, for that man, and for us, to let us see him, really see him; then, you sped up again to let us see those waiting, in each of their ways.
Brilliant!

Shanda said...

Wow..I was there. I was that man as the world rushed by. And I know I will be there in reality one day. I do know I will be more patient today as I am out driving.

Bonnie said...

Not so 'imperfect prose' Brian. You so beautifully articulate today's lack of patience for ageing bodies and ageing minds. With so little patience, understanding and compassion it is very difficult to age with any sense of dignity.

Claudia said...

nice...was curious and looked up Aeschylus...the father of tragedy.. throws a different light on it..his name deriving from the greek word aiskhos which means "shame" - and shame is what i felt when reading this...shame for my own speed and impatience..thanks for making us see him and reminding us to slow down.. and the last stanza, the.. one day crossing a road.. took my breath away..

turtlememoir said...

Beautiful, lyrical - thank you, Aeschylus. :) Loved "Time has nearly loved him dry" and the reminder that given half a chance, time will love each of us as much. Yes, one day that man (or woman) will be us...

Brian Miller said...

thanks claudia...i try to slip a few things in every once in a while...he also has a quote...

"Time as he grows old teaches all things."

Nikki said...

You, sir, have made my day.
Your perspective shows pure brilliance.
So glad I used my time to read your words slow.
thank you.

Daydreamertoo said...

Oh goodness this hits home. Chloe is/was diagnosed as ADHD at 6 years old. Now 15 and a half she still does everything at break-neck speed. So fast she runs downstairs and slams into the walls. I'm the exact opposite, laid back and patient and with her, I need every ounce of patience and then some. she often says to me: "What do you know, you're an old lady" Hurry, hurry, hurry. (I'm 58) I reply: "One day you'll be my age and I hope you have at least one if not two kids, exactly like you, and then you may think back to how you were with me and see what a little monster you were at times." LOL
Who knows but, her impatience does me in. I so feel for this guy. Luckily we're well behind the rest of the world in many ways, but, sadly, we're starting to catch up with that impatience creeping in, with the driving now. Sad isn't it.
Another great life observation from you Brian!

Sub-Radar-Mike said...

Really, really good use of imagery. "Time has nearly loved him dry"... brilliant.

Pat Hatt said...

Wow such depth today with your chime
So true we are always looking for more time
Have to agree one of your best ever
The turn around at the end was very clever
But just maybe by the time I take that long to cross the street
Something will be invented that is neat
Like a moving sidewalk or teleportation pad
That'd just be rad
Until then I'll try and remember not to have road rage
And think about this post on your page

janae said...

Love this "feels the rising anxiety at the injustice of the moment creeping their spine, one bone at a time". I'm ashamed to admit this is felt vividly inside at times. Great call to awareness Brian.

Rachel said...

this makes my body tingle. i want this man in my life, i want to know him and share moments with him.

he has a story, and you caught it.

ells said...

your words painted the picture so well...as I read...I saw the movie in my mind....
Blessings~

Fred said...

Excellent. There are two outstanding passages in here, the one detailing how time has loved him dry and then the one that starts off Time is a fluid thing, really great depiction mixed with philosophy and then you really get us thinking about significance. Wonderful write. thanks

Baino said...

Well done Brian. I struggle with just taking moments and wending them into a story but you did it just fine.

Mama Zen said...

This is exquisite, Brian.

Birdie said...

i don't understand why this is called 'imperfect prose' because this is simply perfect ... i loved it so much Brian!

Caty said...

This made me think of my grandpa,82, and the way the rest of my family treats him...without patience. He's been a HUGE part of my life...and he is such a sweet man who has always cherished his independence...and I can see how sad it makes him that he needs more and more help...and I really wish the rest of my family wasn't so mean to him! Anyway, great story...some very vivid lines in there :)

the walking man said...

This needs a wider read and a greater understanding than you readers Brian. May each one of us take and show it to two more. Time moves at a one heartbeat pace and all the hurry hurry will never change that. You have done a great service in this write.

PattiKen said...

OMG! That was amazing, Brian. You know, I could be seriously ticked off that you've been withholding your talent from 10thDoM. I could, but I'm not. I'm just really glad you came back, and brought this with you. So good.

Rebecca S. said...

I've always distrusted the 'live for today' idea. I think we should live as though we have a future as an elderly person, and treat the elderly accordingly. I see this as an animated piece :)

Vicki Lane said...

So good, Brian. The older I get, the more I recognize the necessity of day to day bravery for the elderly.

hedgewitch said...

Some slick lines in this bri--especially time loving him dry. and hands casting care like spells. So easy to get mad and burn that adrenaline over self-important nothings. That's even a waste of Wednesdays.

KB said...

Everyone is in so much of a hurry these days. I'm surprised they didn't just run him over actually. Can't be late!

She Writes Here Now said...

I enjoyed the way you took your time getting him across the street and coming in and out of the story to allow the reader a little reflection as you went. liked the last lines very much. Your poetry is all over your prose throughout.

missing moments said...

I so loved this story and your great use of words to describe an every day occurrence. Just remarkable!

Magpie said...

Here shines the Brian I know and love. Perfect in all ways! I love so many lines in this one...
"Time has nearly loved him dry though,"; "casting care like spells in the air."; "feels the rising anxiety at the injustice of the moment creeping their spine, one bone at a time."...Thanks for the reminder to slow down and live life with compassion.

Anyes said...

...just ticks on the clock he can not wind himself or unwind...so powerful :-)

time is another mystery I would love to solve, is it real or just an illusion?

Barbara Shallue said...

Oh, Brian, this is so true, isn't it? Everyone needs to read it. Bravo. Love this line especially... "Time is a fluid thing, slipping through your fingers, elusive to any hold you might feel entitled to, easily lost among the debris we capture in our pockets." Love it yet hate the reality of it.

lifeisaroadtrip said...

Brian this was REALLY good. Crikey, it was damn near perfect! A new Brian Miller favorite. (The list is so long.) Plus, I learned about Aeschylus today. The best kind of prose engages the mind in many ways.

G-Man said...

Great Piece of writing Son..
I was waiting for an eagle to drop a turtle on his head!!

Celia said...

You have a talent for describing characters and atmosphere - really good job.

Betsy said...

I loved this. You and I..we think SO much alike some times. I'm afraid the traffic wouldn't have liked me as I leave my car to block in the others and walk across with him...giving evil eyes to anyone revving their motors. ha.

Steve E said...

Brian, your 'imperfect' is 'perfect' by my reading...

Or maybe I should write 'Pluperfect', in that it is perfect prose on a Wednesday theme written for "Theme Thursday"--grin!

DJan said...

Yep, what goes around comes around. Life's like that, yes it is. Good story here. I felt every line.

ayala said...

An awesome write, Brian. One of my favorite of yours.

Heaven said...

Time in events, time to cross the road, and finally time to walk away.

Enjoyed this reflective Wednesday prose ~

Heather said...

i so enjoyed this....read it very slowly several times...it reminded me of my grandpa...thank you -
i love where your writing can take us -

Ryan and Melanie said...

I think perhaps this is my all time favorite piece of yours, but every time I stop by I'm in for a treat.

"Time is a fluid thing, slipping through your fingers, elusive to any hold you might feel entitled to, easily lost among the debris we capture in our pockets."

Wow, this description just jumped out at me. God has given you a great gift with words.

Mel

tera said...

Wow. Just wow.
Really fantastic, Brian. I wish we could get the younger ones to understand the significances of such.

emily wierenga said...

Time has nearly loved him dry


thank you for seeing him, brian. for giving him a place in our hearts... if only he could know, that he is known...

Tara Miller said...

Time has nearly loved him dry...beautiful description here, my love.

One's impatience in getting to the next holiday, school break _____(you fill in the blank) causes us to miss out on the real journey of our life.

Jodi said...

It's frightening sometimes, to think about growing old. I hate watching people be impatient with the elderly. They'll be there, too, one day.

hvninhell said...

"just ticks on the clock he can not wind himself or unwind." So beautifullly, sadly true for all.

Cinner said...

I think this was brilliant Brian, so so true, I could feel the effort it took the man to cross the street. sadly such a significant moment quickly forgotten by others. smiles.

Valerie said...

This is my new favourite, Brian. I was entrenched in the scene as I read. There is so much impatience these days, especially on the roads. No-one has a minute to spare anymore. And no-one could have described it better.

kaykuala said...

Great Brian! Time means nothing to the old man but not to the cars honkin'. Capturing different moods for different episodes of time as a commodity is classic!

Hank

Lorraine said...

Your writing would shake anyone's conscience, remind them they're not the centre of the Universe, your writing, your blog should be on something, somewhere, where everyone reads it daily like a reminder to think they're not the only ones in the world...How can we do that Brian, spread it around : listen to Brian...

Kodjo Deynoo. said...

Very strong and meaningful, just my kind of poems I like. Yes it takes a very attentive read for what importance in messages it conveys

manicddaily said...

Wonderful description. We hang on words like traffic waiting but not impatient. K.

Dave King said...

This is so good. The content is gripping and we are immediately engaged with the fate of the man, but more than that tha writing is superb. Great post.

Zuzana said...

Dear Brian, what a very significant post - the tides of times, the spinning thread of our fate, never knowing how much we have left...
That is why each day should be enjoyed like the last.
This post means a lot to me as we discussed last will yesterday, something less pleasant, but which has to be done when you are a soldier. It put our life - and love - in perspective...
Have a great end of the week dear friend,
xoxo

ladyfi said...

Oh, this is so deep on so many levels. Fabulous!

Mrsupole said...

When one is young it seems like time passes by so slowly but somewhere one reaches an age where time just flies by so quickly. Once time is passing one by, one gains patience to slow down and then one prays for life to pass by slowly again. But alas it speeds on past at a faster pace and our bodies move at a slow pace due to....oh heck the thought just flew out at breakneck speed and I was too slow to catch it. Just know that getting old sucks and if you are old enough to know this then you are one lucky person.

Great story that had us crossing with him for this weeks Theme Thursday. Thanks for playing.

God bless.

Grumpy Old Ken said...

You attract many comments, I can see why. Good stuff.

izzy said...

There are places that are hard to cross! I can relate- I am fording a river right now, that tests my faith daily. Of course I brought it on myself- by asking for a chance/ opportunity, to try something: "One more time".... :) !

SueAnn said...

I fear a time is coming when they will mow him down...because he impeded their path! Like the little girl in China! They just ran her down and no one paid any attention to it. Just road debris!
Sigh!
Hugs
SueAnn

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

This one makes me anxious. The hurry, hurry, hurry is so mundane and pointless.

Just a Wednesday.

Syd said...

Thanks, Brian. I think that just slowing down to appreciate and have respect for those who don't ride in the huffing machines would be good. Instead, there are honks if someone doesn't fly off the line at a green light. There is a man who has a small newspaper stand and every evening he carries all his magazines and such in a shopping cart pushing it across Hwy 17 in a busy part of town. It is a wonder that he hasn't been killed yet. His name is Hassie.

Madhulika said...

i really loved the way you described the man in the beginning...
you paint a wonderful picture in your readers mind.. always :)

Slamdunk said...

I enjoyed this one Brian, and I agree with Sue: fantastic.

A good reminder about the importance of each moment--they will surely be gone sooner rather than later.

Blue Cotton Memory said...

I always feel guilt when I cross a road, like I'm not moving fast enough and slowing everyone down. But, at least in the south, people don't honk at you or inch up toward you. I think you're talking about mercy - being kind even if someone doesn't deserve it - mercy because someday you might need it - a being compassionate to others and hoping it comes back your way one day - like when doing something as simple as walking across a road!

TALON said...

Yes, time is indeed a slippery creature. It's those unspecial moments that really carry the meaning. Loved this, Brian.

adeeyoyo said...

This piece is wonderful, Brian. I love it, especially the way time just moves on inexorably, and the fluidity of assigning tasks taking up time, adjusting as and when we can...

Jinksy said...

Time has nearly loved him dry

Aw, gee!♥

Anonymous said...

as I read, I begin to realize that time, is elastic.
A sling-shot write, not one word wasted.

blueviolet said...

We really are impatient creatures.

Raivenne said...

Wow! Just wow! I felt every second of that clock tick as I read this. Brilliantly done.

Leovi said...

Over time heal the wounds and forget the sorrows.

Kris said...

Absolutely!

yellowhousecafe said...

A beautiful write, Brian. It flows with an understanding of humanity and humility; to be someone and nothing within that bigger picture. It is interesting, as I read this, I crossed an intersection I cross whenever I bike to work, but I've seen a lot of other on foot, etc. People get hit at this intersection. I felt his breath, I felt my own...I crossed with him to the other side. Thank you for taking me there...slowing me down ~

Jen said...

surviving on the other side...the essence of life, sometimes, yes?

Love this piece.

secret agent woman said...

This is especially meaningful to me having really seen a man hit and killed crossing a road. Life is fragile.

Kim Hyland said...

Potent. Powerful reflection on time and our gluttony with it. I felt like I was there.
Thanks for voting for Em :)

Karen said...

So beautiful and profound. Had to read it twice, it just got me *right there*, you know?

Well done! And Happy TT!

Dolly@ Soul Stops said...

My first time here from Emily's blog..don't want to sound like a broken record, as I'm #87, but I LOVED everything about it...ditto all of the above comments:)

Alice Audrey said...

Fantastic description.

Connie@raise your eyes said...

Relief that he made it, whew!I've seen that man...and now I'm that lady...tick tock.

Myrna R. said...

Really Brian, this one touched my soul. I've been struggling with time lately, not making the best "trades", and I guess, wasting it. Often, I wonder how people like you get so much done with the same allotment of hours.

The wisdom you show in this piece is spectacular.

A.Decker said...

Love it. Ordinary everyday life as an event. Very good, very good.

A.Decker said...

And oh yeah, I had to look it up but the title just makes the whole thing downright poetic.

Bimbimbie said...

I saw something similar at the supermarket this morning - rude impatient people only thinking "me, me, me" - lovely to see you back at 10th with this timely piece.

Tom said...

nice little snapshot moment. well written too

Goofball said...

Hmmm


Some days I'm the impatient driver, some days I'm the empathic driver with all sympathy for the man crossing


I'll try to be more of the latter

Katherine Krige said...

and we breathe. and we walk. time enough to carry on~

JeffScape said...

Word.

This reminds me of an old VW commercial where time syncs up for a brief moment, only with melancholy.