First Thing This Morning

The clock claims the hour is 6:00 a.m., but I know better. The time actually is an hour earlier. But what, exactly, is a moment in “time?” Could I label this very instant in time as 5:37 p.m., adjusting all other moments accordingly, and still live a full and complete life? Humans, in general, have collectively agreed to a relatively simple system of differentiating “then” from “now.” And we call that system “time.” We base our assertions about “time” on the movements of the Earth and the Sun and the planets and various observations made by long-dead astronomical mystics. We call it a scientific system. Or, at least, we seem to believe it is scientific. In fact, though, it is an artificial pseudo-scientific construct used to organize chaos into easily-understood packets of experience that last “just so long.”

Yes, I’ve written about the mysteries of time before. Many times. Time is a fascinating construct; evidence of mass psychosis welcomed by billions upon billions of humans who willingly give in to its power over them. How would our lives be different if we did not bother with time? How could we answer the simple question: “When?” Without time, we would not need (or have the ability) to answer the question because the query would be irrelevant and meaningless.

Think of how time has invaded our thought processes and our languages. Before. After. During. When. Then. Now. Multiply those words by the number of languages into which they can be translated. Add other words to the mix; words that suggest different instances or moments or durations. All right, I believe I’ve made my point: the concept of time has crept into every element of our lives. We cannot conceive of life without time, no matter how hard we try. The concept of time is not limited to life, either. Death “follows” life; it comes “after.”  A “lifetime” of memories often are on display at celebrations of the life of a person who has died.

Speaking of language, and I was (at some point), what value would a past participle have in an existence in which time was missing?  Future tense? Was. Had. Did. Will. Looked. Spoke. They all merge thoughts with instances or periods of time.

Yeah, and so what? Nothing, really. Just some irrelevant observations about the human condition. Would time exist in the absence of humans? Hard to say, having never been in such a situation. Whether other animals conceive of the construct of time in the abstract is impossible to know, I think. We have introduced them to time by way of training them about “when” feeding time is/will be. But without our interference, would they have any sense of time? And, again, so what? Does it matter? “Again.” That word also suggests an underlying connection with time. “Not yet.” They keep popping into my head. If they don’t stop, my skull will fill to beyond its capacity and it will detonate in a fiery mushroom cloud; phrases are combustible in the extreme.

Even “combustible.” It suggests combustion “can occur later.” Doesn’t it? Have I lost my mind? Has time entered my cranium and eaten my brain, leaving only an empty container and thousands upon thousands of useless, broken, spent words? It’s possible.


I mentioned the time when I first started writing this morning because the dog, AKA Bob, roused me much earlier. Bob has not yet adjusted to the time change. (Didn’t we just arbitrarily adjust time on a whim?) He wanted breakfast and, of course, a long, hard-driving walk. He got breakfast. He will get the walk. I’m not sure whether I’ll shower and shave first, though. I look a little like I slicked down my hair with cold bacon grease before bed. The thin, short silver and white and sandy blonde stubble on my face and neck suggests I have not shaved since I was younger (another dimension of time). I’ve not put on jeans or a sweatshirt yet, so if I were to go out now, I would be underdressed, cold, and subject to being detained as an old man who wandered out of his house looking for his youth. I do not feel old, though. I feel like a young buck, a raging stud ready to take on the world and make it mine. A little like that, anyway. I’ll take the damn dog for a walk, first.


Damn! I just checked my calendar and found that I have a Zoom class. Not to worry; it will be recorded and I can listen/watch later. This is not a good moment to do that; nice that they will record it. I think.


One way or another, I will set up the heavy wooden bed frame in the master bedroom this week. I will move the twin bed someplace else. Maybe I’ll switch their places. But I’ll need help; my neighbors offered to assist, but the queen bed weighs just over one million pounds, so I’ll need another body or two. That’s no problem. The problem, really, is the reconstruction of the queen bed; getting it back together will be the challenge. It always is. And putting the Sleep Number platform and air mattress back together will make me feel small and inept. Always does. That’s why I should hire a team of servants. Highly paid servants. Pay them enough and they’ll be willing to wash the windows, inside and out. Give them three weeks paid vacation, health insurance, and keys to a new LandRover and they will be willing to clean the rugs on occasion. I already know their names: Phaedra, Linda, Apollonia, and Alluria. By some strange coincidence, they’re each 43 years old and fiercely independent, though deeply jealous. None of them knows about the others; quite a trick, I must say. Each of them has her own room with ensuite facilities; I had to add on to the house to accommodate them.


Apollonia is the namesake of Apollonia James, a character in Overdrawn and the Memory Bank. Arom Fingal is another character in that film; Raul Julia played that part. Linda Griffiths played the part of Apollonia James. I’ve read that some of the actors who played in the film did not like it. I don’t care; I liked it.


How would the world (or your little part of it) react if you publicly acknowledged your most private, most tightly kept secrets or fantasies? Would you be shunned? Arrested? Placed in chains? Or are you the type whose fantasies would generate admiration and respect?  Tell you what: reveal those secrets or fantasies to me and we’ll keep it between just the two of us; I’ll let you know what the rest of the world would say without putting you through the embarrassment.

We want to know things about other people; private and personal things that make us feel closer bonds to them. I’m not talking about strangers on the street, of course. I refer to people with whom we’re already close…more or less. And I think we want to share secrets. When a secret is shared with us, we feel privileged. Until it is shared with the rest of the world; the privilege shrivels like a water balloon with a moderately fast leak.


Enough for now. I’ve been dawdling here, off and on, for more than 90 minutes. Those minutes are gone forever; I cannot retrieve them. I could have spent them painting the laundry room or playing online games of chance. Instead, I spent them here. With you.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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