We Give Time Significance

Dearest Rachel –

These days, it seems that you have to have a sense of humor to deal with what’s happening in the world each day. A sick sense of gallows humor, to be sure – probably along the lines of someone who would be an expert at Cards Against Humanity or something like that – but a sense of humor, nonetheless.

Otherwise, you would just spend your days crying. And there’s too much going on to deal with to paralyze yourself like that.

I realize this letter is going to touch on (relatively) current events and a bit of politics, but I hope you’ll forgive me for that. It’s just that, what’s been said needs to be addressed – at least, as long as it’s been rattling around in my head. With that being said…

You’ve missed out (lucky you!) on all but a handful of days of the reign of his exalted majesty, King Joseph the Muppet. As a result, you have also not been aware of the comic stylings of his lieutenant, whose name we were all still trying to learn how to pronounce properly, since getting it wrong was an indication of racism on our part, according to the best authorities. Then again, since our immutable skin tone was already proof positive that we were racists through and through, what difference did it make if we rhymed her name with Pamela or the punctuation mark (i.e., ‘comma-la,’ which I have been informed is the proper way to say it)? We would still be irredeemable.

Incidentally, I’m sure I’m not the only one to wonder this, but why is it that every white person is, by default, racist? That sounds like one is judging us by our skin color; there used to be a word for that particular process, didn’t there? Didn’t that use to be a bad thing to do?

Still, what do I know, I’m just a dumb white cracker, now, ain’t I?

But I digress.

Actually, I think I’ll continue to digress, in order to give a little context to where I’m going with this. You might remember a bit from Saturday Night Live – granted, it was after we gave up hope that the show was going to be funny anymore, but I realize that doesn’t narrow down any particular time frame – of quasi-inspirational, fauxlosophical pseudo-profundities by one Jack Handey (who is apparently a real person, and not a fake name assumed by a cast member – I just found this out) entitled ‘Deep Thoughts.’

Well, it just so happens that our current second-in-command has a talent for this sort of thing as well…

It turns out that she is perhaps the worst public speaker in politics in a century; and at least Warren Harding had the virtue of adding new words to the American lexicon, such as ‘normalcy’ and ‘bloviate’ – neither of which are entirely of his own coinage, but he popularized them to the point that they are still part of the political vocabulary to this day.

While Harding had his ridiculous flourishes, such as a taste for purple prose and alliteration ad nauseum, Ms. Harris merely gives off the vibe of a fifth-grader doing a report on a book that she clearly hadn’t read. And the most amazing thing about her delivery is, she doesn’t seem capable of learning how incompetent she sounds. Our theoretical fifth-grader would want to avoid a second embarrassment on the next assignment, and do a little more research, but it seems Ms. Harris is convinced that such work isn’t necessary for her to do, and so the cycle continues to repeat itself over and over again. Dan Quayle has to be as grateful for her existence as Jimmy Carter is for her boss – they both look like geniuses in comparison to who we have in charge today.

But one clip has yet to be added to this compilation, and I found myself waking up this morning with it in my head, needing to discuss it with you:

It looks like she thinks she’s saying something truly profound (as she always does; either that, or something funny, if only to her) – and, in fact, she’s actually quite close to doing so. And yet, even as I say this, I have to point out that she can hardly be more wrong, either.

Because as I see it, there is absolutely no significance to the passage of time in and of itself.

Nothing… other than what happens during it, and what we imbue it with.

Do days exist without calendars? Does time pass when there are no human hands left to wind the clocks?

H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds

These are theoretical questions, of course, since they cannot be answered if we are here, and are pointless without our presence. But while it should be pointed out that time does in fact pass in the absence of contemporaneous measurement (consider the archeological record of past epochs as an example), the question remains as to what is significant about its passage – or how far one has to go to attain significance.

Time, after all, is nothing more than an eternal continuum, no different than the x-y-z axes that make up perceived space. The only difference between them is we are only capable of traveling in a single direction in time (okay, we’re limited in terms of vertical progress, too, but we can move up and down, to a limited extent. If you want to argue about it, we’re limited in every direction, since the Earth is only so big, and we only have so much time on it in any event. But let’s set that aside for now). Any motion from point A to point B only has significance if we consider it so; if that is where we want to go. Point C is irrelevant to us, unless it happens to be on our way from A to B.

The same thing applies to time. If nothing happens between time A and time B, was the passage between them of any significance? A child stuck in detention hall, for instance, would say there was nothing of any importance about that period time, save to get him closer to when he could finally be released. Granted, getting to that point would be considered significant, but the interminable minutes between there? Not so much to him.

Which brings up the question of how long does a passage of time have to be in order to be considered significant? Again, I think it has to do with what we expect or want to have happen in it. If one is suffering from a wound, the passage of time is significant insofar as one sees a change – be it a positive effect, such as it healing, or negative, in terms of festering or infection – in that injury. And we are dealing with so many injuries these days, both on a personal or a global level. Worse yet, they – and the sense of loss that accompanies them – aren’t given the time or attention they need to properly heal before we receive yet another battering we find ourselves having to recover from. And so, as time passes, nothing truly significant happens until we make it happen.

So, until it does happen, honey, keep an eye out for me, and wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

Published by randy@letters-to-rachel.memorial

I am Rachel's husband. Was. I'm still trying to deal with it. I probably always will be.

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