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.