“Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paw…”
I’ve always been concerned with time. Killing it, saving it. Trying to catch it when it flies, wishing it’d fly when it drags. Etc, etc. Trying to save it ’cause it’s money, but there ain’t never enough of it.
Time is such a double-edged sword. We look forward (payday, vacay, Super Bowl Sunday) until it’s passed, because when it’s the past we start looking back. And what really sucks is its inevitable, which is why when we do get to the time we were looking forward, we start looking back, because suddenly we’re another time we were looking forward to closer to our death.
And death is the thing that concerns me most about time.
Ever since I was a kid I’ve had a high-idling fear of death, which obviously can’t be a unique fear by virtue of the fact that I’m talking about fucking death here and if you’re not afraid of death then you’re a fucking robot or just the guy from Free Solo (who is also maybe a fucking robot), because, honestly, what’s scarier than everything being over?
I used to sit up late in bed just, like, sweating death. And I don’t mean like dying. Not, like, worrying about the way in which I’d die — honestly, I don’t really give a fuck about that, but if you’re curious, the top three ways I would rather not go (because, look, it’s not like I haven’t thought about it) are 1) shark attack, 2) fire, and 3) a skin-rotting-style-virus —
I’m talking about sweating death itself. The great void. The nothingness.
“Do whatever thou wilt, swift-footed time…”
And it wasn’t even like I was sitting up late in bed sweating my death. I was sweating everyone else’s death that would happen before mine, because that’s the shit you really have to endure. Which is how sinister time is — like a home invasion thriller except the home being invaded is your life, and first it takes your dog, then your folks, and then, depending on where you sit in the lineup among your other loved ones, maybe it takes you next, but no guarantees, and plus, you’re dead now and without the luxury of knowing what happens to your peeps!
And what’s worse, by the way, is this: say time does run its course, and death does happen in its natural order. Well, my friend, then you gotta consider yourself lucky because think of all the poor unsuspecting individuals who contend with the wanton fetish of death when it selects those well before their time.
“But I forbid thee one more heinous crime…”
It seems like the mystery and inevitability of death would encourage us to live in a certain way. Like, it would force us to live with the presumption of it. But I think death is just so unknowable and looming that collectively, we’re just too scared to really cope with it. And, as if the relationship between time and death and their compounded existential threat weren’t harrowing enough, death has a side scheme —
It can get you whenever it wants. However it wants.
Like shark attack. Or fire. Or a skin-rotting virus.
Once again, I’m not trying to highlight the modes of death by talking about death in those terms, I’m just saying that via those modes, death is fully unpredictable. Which is why I say that I think humankind really has an issue with death-denial, because by virtue of our very lives we’re expected to deal with both the immediate threat of, like, this possible and sudden death, but also run-of-the-mill death which slowly approaches, no matter.
If I had to drum up a sports metaphor for this right now, it’s like being a quarterback, except the D line and the downfield situation both represent death. And pretty much everything else on the field probably also represents death too.
“Yet do thy worst, Old Time…“
When my grandfather died — old, not suddenly, so, like, no worries — I remember my uncle said something to me about death that was just concise enough for me to process but profound enough for me to never forget —
“Death,” he said. “It’s so uncool.”