“They say that these are not the best of times, but they're the only times I've ever known. And I believe there is a time for meditation in cathedrals of our own.”
Billy Joel - “Summer, Highland Falls”
I'm sitting on the beach, looking out at a great wave I can't possibly outrun. It will reach us all in some way or another, no matter who fast we try to outpace it. For some it will be a hospital bed, a ventilator, and ultimately the end. For others it will be grief and anger and a rending of garments, a gnashing of teeth.
But that is sometime in the unknowable future. What an awful and amazing tragedy to have the gift of foresight, but knowledge incomplete and no way of acting on it anyhow. The future is a fogged mirror. We see the contours but not the picture.
Time has become compressed to a single point of incomprehensible stillness, sadness, anger. I have only this single moment. Everything before is the past, irrelevant. Everything ahead is impossible to know.
This isn't really that earth-shattering, honestly. Holy men the world over have known this since time immemorial. The only moment we're guaranteed is the one we're experiencing right now. All others are either past or future, and neither of them are real.
Not really, at least.
I've been listening to a lot of 90's alternative music. It reconnects me to my teenaged years, when I was so beautifully, self-righteously sad. The world was an absolute mess and it made me so upset, though I couldn't articulate it then. The spectacle of the Gulf War. The breathtaking tragedy of Oklahoma City. Waco. The LA Riots. Kosovo.
Motherfucking OJ Simpson.
What an amazing cockup the human world is.
And it's lead us here, to this single moment. The only one we have. Not a world-historical moment, but this one right here, between you and me. I'm breathing out and you're breathing in. We're sharing something here. Right now, in this moment.
The only one we have.