The Twenty-Seventh Letter

June 7, 2017

A writer I respect told me she loves the way that we use time in our writing. Something about our experience of incarceration allows for a unique perspective. There are ways we pass time in here, there are ways we mark the passage of time in here. We use these various devices because they are at our disposal.

The turnover of faces who have less time than we do. The distance from one routine lockdown to the next. How long since the last outsized display of violence. Change in wardens. Years. Decades.

The science has begun to pervade the culture. Human imagination is becoming accustomed to the concept of a consciousness outside of time. Ideas about the multiverse and the possible interchange between dimensions, these theories are making their way into the mainstream.

I have decided that I like it when my brain changes. I enjoy having to adjust to the new content in my old(er) skin. I like not being the man I was yesterday. I like waking up from a dream and finding myself between two iterations of me. Getting to mourn and rejoice at the intersection of the being and ending…it seems as though you would have to be in two times at once.

I am in my bed in my parents’ house. I am sixteen on a school day. The alarm goes off and I hit snooze. I dream myself into an hour or more. My unconscious given the reins again. When the alarm sounds again, only nine minutes have passed. Whether the universe I dreamt is imagined or objectively “real”, my experience of that time exists in my memory.

If time doesn’t mean what it used to, what does that say of the hours in my cell? If objective time is spatial, a moment existing always, our consciousness only passing through it, then I am always in prison. I am always typing these words. I am always changed and never changing.

I tried to explain how, my heart having finally been broken all the way through, I didn’t want to bother with the repair. I felt safer in my brokenness, my pain making me a better person. Now I wonder if I just missed on the semantic arrangement of my sorrows. Perhaps I cling to my brokenness the way I would lounge on the porch during an afternoon thunderstorm? The grey sunlight and the cool, damp air. I can imagine myself into the wooden rocking chair, creaking under my weight. The warmth of the grain of the weathered arms, soothing the restlessness of my grasping hands. I may well leave my swaying sadness for new love and brighter climes. I am also as likely to reacquaint myself with darkness again one day.

The new notion that all of this thinking about time has given me is the deeper awareness that I am in fact always on that porch. I can fill my lungs with that same cool air while I am lying in the grass with a new lover in a moment years from now. I will not have forgotten the above scene any more than I will have forgotten these compositions, or this stone cubby where I write them. If time exists in an objective sense and our being/soul/consciousness is the thing that’s moving (an idea that seems to make more sense the more I think about it), then the paths of our lives have charted and we are simply making turns as they present themselves.

This would not mean our lives are already set. Rather, every possible outcome of our decisions, past/present/future, would be set. Meaning that our experience of life would still be determined according to our choices. And instead of our paths being created at the inception of our idea to choose between them, they exist already as available options for us to travel. Which dangles the enticement of awareness.

If my consciousness exists as an experience of my life in time, and my experience of time can be altered or modified as in a dream, where can I find the equipment to navigate backward or in between the other choices I might have made? Also, I would do well to remember that even though a moment may be brilliant, I am always also sunken in my chair, watching the thunderheads roll in over the plain.

~AF

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