{Memories of the Past}

a surreptitious glance in a doorway: you

had been waiting for me

but how long?

i can’t remember, i remember

seeing you at the cinema and us

exchanging glances

(those were the days, mostly, of

glances)

and us not speaking, i was too shy, you shy too

so i started walking

across the river, there: a café, old style, what

was i doing in there, could it be, really, that you

waited

outside while i was having coffee inside?

or did i pop in to see if i liked it, but didn’t, or whether

you would follow (but why would you? it was an old style café, and you didn’t), so i

popped out again, straight away? that seems more likely, certainly it seems more

reasonable…

you were in the entrance as i came out and i saw you again and you me and it was clear

you’d been waiting for me, there

in the doorway

but we still didn’t speak

how was that even possible: it was obvious

you had been waiting for me, yet

we didn’t speak, i not to you, you not to me

i was incredibly young, you a bit younger

there by the rhine, in basel, at that time

of glances, mostly, and quietly aching

silences

 

you were there too maybe two, three years later

now on the southbank

in london

you looked different, a bit, though not much

you had those same eyes, longing

uncertain, a

querying glance, that

glance

that i must have had too

it was the era of glances, of not saying what any of us wanted, ever, of

uncertainty, being afraid

but of what?

of being found out

of revealing too much

too much to the wrong kind of person, of being

vulnerable

literally, viscerally, in danger of injury, death

or afraid merely of actually having, enjoying, of living a moment, such one 

brief encounter?

who knows

those were days of unspoken desires

at night time

near rivers

only this time i actually asked you

for a light

or you me?

i you or you me one of us asked the other for a cigarette or a light or for both and

another glance was exchanged and a flame lit up and in that flame we did not look at each other again, we just looked at the hands touching, cupping the cigarette, and that

once again

just was that

how curious

how timid, how cautious, how wary i was

of you

always

and yet how much i wanted to be with you

sill

 

and then there you were in st james’s park: another you, another glance 

i on my way home

you on your way where? i didn’t ask and you didn’t say

it was nice

there

to finally meet you

at night, late

by the pond, not the river

to feel your hands on me, taste your lips

such a long time ago now

such a situation between two and three, thereabouts

when that park is not closed and not open but we both were

closed and open and there

those were the days of

such stolen moments, so

rare

i miss them no more than i miss you

and i don’t miss you i’m just maybe sorry

a bit

that it took me so long to pluck up the courage to finally meet you

albeit briefly

we wasted, it seems, a few opportunities, you and i, but

you live and you learn, and nothing

but nothing

can be rewound, reconfigured, restored, it can not even be really

relived, it can

of course be

in one way or another

remembered, redeemed?

(to what end? none other than to know that there was such a thing as a path, a trajectory,

or an arc:

a semblance of something resembling a story

a sequence of inconsequential instances, now implanted, the shapes

along which the currents of time have mostly been channelled, each curve, each bend

not just leaving traces but forming them too

until

at last

there’s a torrent

and the river, the brook or the stream

floods its banks and

ignores

these patterns, these half

designs half

instinctive behaviours half

needed half wanted half detested half worn and half

overthrown memories

only half

ever

because the half that sits underground under consciousness under skin under mind

remains there forever somehow, and

so be it

albeit not always appreciated not always valued not always wanted or loved

you are always

a part of me still, and always

welcome

to stay

 

whatever became of you, i do wonder

and then i forget that i ever did

because life goes on and

there are many more rivers to cross and bridges to burn and transgressions that must be traversed and

comings together

to fathom, just

know that i never not wanted

to know you

589 The Sedartis Effect

Sedartis is full of little insights which are borderline annoying. They are annoying, because they are obvious and it’s possible only to be borderline annoyed with them, because they are obviously true. They are the kind of insights that make you wonder: why has nobody pointed this out to me, say, in year eleven. 

Since joining me, unbidden, uninvited, and taking up quasi-permanent residence by my side, he has been doing this at irregular intervals, which, through their irregularity, at last have the advantage of containing a mild element of surprise.

‘The reason time passes faster as you get older, relentlessly, is very simple,’ he tells me. I did not ask him about this, I was just looking out of the window of yet another moving train, this time to Dorset.

‘I imagine it is,’ I say, having for some time felt I had my own plausible theory about this. ‘At the age of one, one year is a hundred percent of your lifetime. That makes it really long. So long that you can’t fathom its duration.’

I’m not sure that I can fathom it now, but, for different reasons…

‘By the age of ten, that same year is now only a tenth of your lifetime. In absolute terms, it may be as long as any other year, but you don’t experience life in absolute terms: you experience life in relative terms, always: relative entirely to you. Your year is now just ten percent of your body of experience.

At the age of fifty, one year has shrunk to a fiftieth of your lifetime: if somebody offered you a fiftieth part of a pie you’d barely think it worth eating. But it’s still a year, and it’s still a slice of your life.

And aged a hundred, your year now hardly registers at all. You may well lose track and forget how old you are: was it a hundred and two or a hundred and three years ago now that you were born? Does it matter?’

‘This all makes perfect sense to me,’ I say to Sedartis, ‘and why are you telling me? Now?’

‘Because you’re obviously at that point in your life when your perception of time reaches a tipping point: your life expectancy nowadays isn’t quite but may soon be about a hundred, so around now, as you’re halfway through this, your feeling of losing your grip on time will accelerate and because you’re now no longer moving away from your birth but towards your death, you will find this more and more disconcerting.’

‘What, more disconcerting than I find it already?’

‘Of course. But think not for one moment that you’d be happier if you lived longer.’

‘I don’t think so.’

‘Because: if you were to get to the point, say, where you habitually had an active consciousness span of ten thousand years, it would not feel that much longer: as you’d get towards the last millennium, each year would only be between nine and one ten thousandth of our lifetime. That is about the same as three days are for you today. You will not experience a hundred times more than you do today, you will simply stretch your living out over a period a hundred times longer. And nor should that surprise you: when your life expectancy was thirty years or so, people did not generally think, our lives are so short; they simply did all their living inside those thirty years. No-one would argue that Alexander the Great, for example, or Mozart, didn’t really get enough living done in the thirty-odd years of their lives.’

‘No,’ I say, thinking a tad wistfully of Tom Lehrer, ‘that, I’m sure, no-one could argue.’

‘It’s, in a not entirely obvious way, not unlike the Doppler Effect: the sound waves coming towards you are compressed so they appear to your ears higher than once the source of the sound has passed: now the waves are getting stretched and so the pitch seems to drop. Of course, time is no wave and the comparison is clumsy at best and misleading at worst, but if nothing else it’s another example of how your reality is shaped entirely by your experience of it. You may, if you like, refer to the relative experience of time as the Sedartis Effect, I shan’t hold it against you if you will.’

{Vibe}

What kind of a consciousness is it that knows itself to exist but doesn’t know why? In what way does that make sense? In what way does it not? The quest. The longing to learn. The yearning for answers. The learning to yield. If only my brain were better at retaining information. What is ‘information’? Remembrance of things past and future. The energy stream, and the particles. Obviously, the waves. The idiosyncrasies. Material flaws. Cracks that let the light shine through. Nonuniform irregularities. Quantum behaviour.