Dec 02 2013

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Time and Change

Posted at 6:26 am under Blog Post

December brookNow it is December. My dog Matika and I walk the Rail Trail early in the morning, leaving tracks in fresh snow beneath a dull sun. Seems like I was doing this not long ago, but the snow geese urgently heading south make it clear that nearly a whole year has passed since I last saw the sun this low in the sky. This passage of time makes me shudder. As I grow older, the years seem to slip by faster.

The trail crosses a small brook partially iced over. In due time, this brook will be completely covered with snow and ice. And yet it will still flow – a muffled trickle reminding anyone who pays attention that the passage of time is relative. Compared to my dog, I live a long life. Compared to this brook, my existence is only the blink of an eye.

The ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus said that we can never step in the same river twice. While squatting along the edge of the brook, I ponder this. The stream before me rushes incessantly, never pausing. I constantly change, as well, in much more subtle ways. So does everything around me. The whole world is in flux –  the entire universe for that matter. Nothing stands absolutely still.

I continue walking the trail, following a set of tracks laid by someone else a day or two before. When the trail clears the trees and enters a field, I notice that a snowdrift has obscured those tracks. In due time, the boot prints that I press into the snow will also fill in or blow away. Then there will be only my memory of having been here.

These are the reflections of an old thinker, of course. The young live in the present, as do the thoughtless. As I walk the trail, countless others prepare for the holidays, feeling the press of time in a different way. For them, December 25th is all that matters, and the rituals surrounding that day seem eternal. Nature reminds us that they aren’t, of course. Ah, well… I’d better start my Christmas shopping soon, anyway.


3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Time and Change”

  1. bettyohearnon 02 Dec 2013 at 9:27 am 1

    Always enjoy your wanderings1

  2. Holly Bartonon 02 Dec 2013 at 9:35 am 2

    Tennyson wrote in his poem, “The Brook”,

    “I chatter, chatter as I flow
    To join the brimming river,
    For men may come, and men may go,
    But I go on forever.”

    One of my favorite lines.

  3. Bob Stantonon 06 Dec 2013 at 6:15 pm 3

    Puts me in mind of something Jim Harrison once said (I’m paraphrasing, and badly) : “When I’m out in the woods, I’m not only in the present, I’m 10,000 years old too.” I often think of this while I’m out – the garb and the implements may have changed, but I’m on a path travelled for eons.