Time goes, you say? Ah no! Alas, time stays, we go*


I imagine myself standing on a conveyer belt like the ones people walk on at airports, only I can neither hasten nor retard the progress of this belt for it is carrying me through time. I wave goodbye forever to the passing moments: to my 64th birthday last Friday; to the sad face of my beloved neighbor who left a half hour ago for a new home in another state; and to the newness of a baby girl named Sidney who was born less than two days ago. As I held Sidney, I thought back to 1949 when I was born, to the people who were in their sixties then who saw me as I was seeing her, knowing that they would die as I was coming into maturity. So does each generation watch its successor enter the world helpless, and its successor watch it leave the world helpless. If only the helplessness of the old could be as cherished as the helplessness of the young. But even for the young there is the foreboding of sorrow, for who can contemplate the pain that they will know and not grieve for them and wish in vain to protect them? 

*Henry Austin Dobson

20 comments:

rhymeswithplague said...

Goodness, gracious, my, oh my, have we become philosophical in our advancing years!

Seriously, there is much to ponder in your post. In our day, which we have deemed the most enlightened of all, the helplessness of the young is made clearer by abortion and the helplessness of the old is made clearer by euthanasia.

lotta joy said...

My first taste of irony concerning death was when one of our newest hirees said to me: "In twenty years I'll be able to retire!" And I said "Yes. And I'll be dead."

It suddenly hit me that the time I had left at that moment was truly minimal by contrast to his ideas of planning a quick retirement.

Even if I believed in an afterlife, I still wouldn't want to leave this one. This knowledge is what keeps me fearful of dying. I don't wanna go!

angela said...

Such a sad tone to a post that is full of happiness. Your birthday, a massive milestone anda new life. Wishing you both all the blessings of the world. Xxx

Sonia Rodriguez said...

Wow you took everything I have been feeling the last few weeks and summed it up so eloquently Snow. Thank you I needed to read this and I smiled seeing you holding that precious newborn in your arms. I fear leaving this earth and contemplate death a lot..biggest fear in many lives sadly enough. I guess all we can do is stop taking our time for granted and live for the day not for what if as Renee told me. Because all it is what if not what it could be or will be. xoxooxxo

Marion said...

What an awesome picture. You look great, Snow.

I've heard it said that we should rejoice at one's 'timely' death and weep when a child is born. Would that we (the blissfully ignorant parents)knew a fraction of the misery, sorrow, angst, pain, lack of sleep for the rest of our lives, loss of money and wrecked cars...well, nobody would have any children. But they're worth it. Just when you get them safely educated and happily married, they begin reproducing and it all starts over again...except the grandones are way more fun because you get phone calls saying, "Mama, I'm sooooo sorry I was such a smart-mouthed teenager because karma is biting me in the ass now...." LOL! That was my daughter with the 16 year old son. Ah, the joys of "I told you so!" LOL! I'd do it all again, though, for the joy they've brought me. Have a great weekend, Snow. xo

Stephen Hayes said...

And yet its the impermanence of life that adds so much character to the experiment of existence.

The Elephant's Child said...

'So does each generation watch its successor enter the world helpless, and its successor watch it leave the world helpless.' That doesn't really cause me any problems. It is when our successors leave the world before us, or worse become helpless and don't leave the world, that I grieve.

Zuzana said...

Beautiful post, one of my favorite. So true, loved every word... In the end we just come to a bittersweet resignation accepting that life is truly very short.
Have a great weekend,
xoxo

Deb said...

Well, happy belated birthday to you, Snow. It's so strange how one day you're enjoying the company of someone, and they're gone, whether like your friend, moved away to another state, or in my situation, life came to an end for my father. HIs birthday is coming up so this month is the hardest for us I guess. I remember him saying a few weeks before he passed, "It was just like yesterday when I was running my excavation company and enjoying life, and now I'm in this bed. Life goes by like that," as he snapped his fingers. It just stuck in my mind. We go by, not time. I love that.... so so so true and so strange when you think about it.

Great post.

PhilipH said...

We emerged from the sea as some sort of creature and quickly grew into human beings. All this has happened in a few seconds, or maybe minutes, in the millions and millions of years since the big bang - or whatever you care to call it.
The mayfly lives for a day; a lifetime for that creature. Humans live for circa 70 years, give or take a decade.
Life is just a merry-go-round or roller-coaster and you keep paying for the short ride until you're slung off.
That's it. Gone. Forever, until this lump of a planet ends ITS life, as it surely will one day.
In the meantime, Snowy, enjoy the delight of the tiny tot, she is so content in your cradling arms. And you look pretty well too!

Robin said...

Oh, Snow...such a beautiful, poignant and yes, oh-so-true post.
I learned the lesson that we are all motal and will die, in 1984, when my Mum died... the cycle of life goes on -

I LOVE the photo of you holding Henry...it's truly beautiful!

Love,

♥ Robin ♥

Sissy said...

Ah, Snow, the tender look on your face tells me there's much value in our lives even with all our pain. You gladdened my heart, dear Sir. A belated very happy birthday to you. I hope you planted a kiss on the little one, not missing the delightful joy of such action.

Snowbrush said...

"the helplessness of the young is made clearer by abortion and the helplessness of the old is made clearer by euthanasia."

Oh, horrors, religion-based conservatism rears its head if I'm not badly mistaken. As for abortion, I have no problem with it, although the earlier the better. When it comes to a fetus that could survive outside the womb, it's another matter. As for euthanasia--Rah, rah! Boom, boom! Bang, bang! I would send them to their final rest myself, just as I would want to have someone do it for me.

"'In twenty years I'll be able to retire!" And I said "Yes. And I'll be dead.'"

Death being your retirement plan? Ha, although in a way it is, what with being able to finally opt out of our dysfunctional health-care system--dysfunctional for the patient anyway.

"Such a sad tone to a post that is full of happiness."

Solomon (reportedly) wrote in Ecclesiastes that it's better to go to a house of mourning than a house of mirth, but I find that they each contain an element of the other.

"I guess all we can do is stop taking our time for granted and live for the day not for what if..."

But is this wisdom or a characteristic of the wise? In other words, can a person purposefully do this in short of an awakening to the meaning of death? I rather think not.

"nobody would have any children. But they're worth it."

I've known parents who are very sad they had children. For instance, I had cousin whose severely disabled daughter lived into her fifties, so he gave up his life to care for her, and wasn't happy about it. Of course, that's an extreme case, but I've also known parents who renounced their children over issues of religion, something that I find impossible to imagine doing.

Strayer said...

Maybe time is another dimension. Too bad you can't just step off the damn conveyor belt. Give it a rest. Sabatage it. Blow up the conveyor belt! I was told once time is a line and space exists around that line. I believe time is a human concoction, a counting method. Bodies break down. But do they age? Only in human counting terms.

rhymeswithplague said...

A heads-up for Robin and perhaps others. Snow is not holding Henry. Snow is holding Sidney. Henry is the author of the quotation in the post's title.

kj said...

Pain, yes snow. But also such joy and astonishment. Do you know the poet Mary Oliver ? You've written something so poignant it reminded me of her reverence with the world.

I enlarged your photo and got to know you better. Now I might recognize you in a crowd. :-)

It's one circle . We participate and then step aside to make room for a younger version of our dreams. More and more I know to hold on and let go and feel it all

With love
kj

kj said...

And happy birthday to you. I am older than you. My body knows but I keep tricking my mind and I'm glad I can!

Myrna R. said...

Sorry to be so late, but happy birthday to you ad Sidney. I know what you mean about pain inevitable. Hopefully, the good moments balance them out.

Kerry said...

So bittersweet, this cycle of life.

Joe Pereira said...

A beautifully written, poignant but yet joyful post :)