Time is Eternal in the Hemlock Forest

Lately, I’ve been having a difficult relationship with time. It feels as if time is some foreign czar with an iron fist and an oddly-attentively-groomed moustache who’s brought along his whole regime with him. Not only that (although his moustache is exponentially important), but he’s changing and restructuring everything. Putting everything into

a box. A square peg in a round hole. All that. And the clock is his empty-minded muscle. Think the enforcer in any mob movie: the big guy with the block body and an unchanging expression. Clocks have this pragmatic blank face—a death march of austere fist sandwiches. And the thing is, all they want to do is tell you how to live. I wish I never had to look at those two clenched hands and that paper face again, but everything I do throughout the day is dictated by exactly that. I have to be here, then. I have to be there, when? I have to do this, now. It’s frustratingly silly that we’ve convinced ourselves as a “self-governing” people that we should rush around like that, spinning around in circles so much it makes us dizzy. I mean, what’s the point in that?

If I ever muster up the courage, I’m planning to cast away every clock into a cranium of clouds. Just pull the whole fluffy lid back on the bunch of them and ~ p l o p ~ away they go, forever. We would all be better off. We could wander off into the forest without worry of the wolf snatching us away—and that’s all anybody wants, really. But time is shorter than an ant—and filled with much more malice, constantly muttering a malediction at the top of every inconsequentially-forceful hour.

But enough about the bad things. It’s time to silence the inner critic. When I can manage to shake time’s ice-cold grip, it’s amazing how glistening the whole world is.How everything dances: the frozen branches struggling to balance the weight of a crusty snow blanket; the eternally flowing river, that disposes of complacency with its silk stomach of timeless wonder; the words on the page of the book, how they turn into a liquid soothesaying elixir that heal the angry wounds inflicted by the world’s occupants. To be able to slow down and breathe these things in through my nose and out through my toes, letting them flow through my entire body without a worry or wrinkle in the world, is the truest gift. It feels the way I imagine a worm must think. And worms are rather lucky, wriggling and rolling and wiggling in a rigmarole of watercolor brown mud, dancing a pale- pink string dance completely naïve of the rolling, deteriorating surf of time, their dewy sunrise jig welcoming spring in open arms. I’m sure their tiny brains and many hearts are brimming with world takeover schemes, and plots and plights and wits, but they instead cast them aside and play in the mud with every of their five-thousand seven-hundred and eighty-four hearts.

The difference lies in cherishing the smaller things: The whispered whistle floating from the tiny needles of the hemlock tree when given a fair shake; the non- complacency of the wind, and the many secrets that float along its ceiling stream; the transparent and shining ice laden with broken branches reflecting back February sonnets and the many answers to life’s hardest riddles that have left you vexed time and time again. This difference is the same that creates such an aperture between 100 smiling bronze pennies and one crumpled, crinkled, angry dollar.

We have to come to the conclusion that our minds aren’t constructed to digest the eternal. Everything around us that we can grasp is temporary. Each lithe, shining day dies and gives way to frigid, black canvas night. Every smile, splayed across our faces like peanut butter and strawberry jelly spread over two pages of Daisy white bread, eventually gives way to the crumbling constructs of the frown. Each of our physical bodies will one day fail, an imperfect machine boxing our flailing spirit for each fragile day that natural law allows. The great thing is that this theory is reversible; each of these travesties succumb to their inverse, just as the cosmic composition left from an explosive star-death once again recycles into the soul of a new shining sky mosaic. This, in all its effect and defect, is what makes us human. And this in and of itself is beautiful, and beautifully flawed.

Lately, I’ve been having a difficult relationship with time. It’s true. But yet, this had led me to a subsequent fixation on the eternal, and those things that exist within the eternal. The stained, deeply-imbued blue of the unframed sky will forever stare down at whatever inhabits its vast basement floor. The mud will forever envelop whatever dances within its watercolor brown happiness. My own mind will forever battle between the productivity of vanilla to-do lists and leaving it all behind to dance in the forest, spending the time carelessly as I carefully learn the name of each and every tree. Listening to their umber-ringed tales is all they ask for, and all I can offer, with my humble ears and tumbling heart.

For now, I’ll have to settle for getting lost in a small room, for letting my mind off its leash to construct a universe of universal relief, and for daydreaming of the day when I can run off into the forest and become one of its eternal inhabitants. Each lost life gives way to a subsequent life; hope minuets among the cracking tree branches and soon-to- blossom buds and tessellates the weighted, uncaring sky with azure splotches of knowledge that there is a life beyond the one coursing through my river-blue veins as I type this.

I’m not sure if we can ever achieve eternal. But one can only try, just as the mountaineer does: Armed with a sharper pair of shears, attempting to clip a clear path to the endless.

“Up there where the air thinner / The mountaineer keep a sharper pair of shears with him / Clip a clear path to the endless / Stack up a meal ticket, hands sticky / The tar shiny, black time—you can’t buy it back / Please don’t throw me to the briar-patch, got his ass / I’m back home and I gotta laugh / The siren song got me out a jam / And in a, and in a flash, climbing in a bath, damn”

- Thebe Kgositsile

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