There’s a strange sequence of events that flourishes with any venture between deadlined tasks. We are harried and rushed for release, then harried and rushed for return. In the midst of this tumult I find myself now, pacing and aching in any number of ways and directions at any given moment. I feel akin to a vector turned into a field, a being capable of but one magnitude and direction in an instant but suddenly forced to move outwards with no aim in sight.
It started simply enough, I told myself. There would be time. So much time.
The summer began. Torn to my threadbare ends, I was certain time would allow me to relax. To no avail, I found the only bliss I could hope for in submerging myself into whatever work I could find to do. This meant for the most part researching colleges to no end and tending to watching movies I had not allowed myself to watch sooner for want of responsibilities more important than those. As these tasks wore down, so did I.
But the promise of rest now had its eyes turned elsewhere. Into preparing for the coming term I found myself putting my time, yet simultaneously now capable of rest. I played video games, slept late, stayed up later. Forged for me habits now needing to be cracked yet steadfast in their superior strength over my diminished willpower, so strong at summer’s start now whittled to a thin strip of nothingness from the long, humid, overbearing heat and the prospect of stress building amid the momentous beginnings of next week.
You could say it feels like the mounting tension preceding the Big Bang. It’s very clear how quickly, how abruptly, how extensively the world will come alive six o’clock Monday morning, and yet I am wearied to watch it awaken. This semblance of task-taking and feeling of timid responsibility has kept me intrigued just enough over the course of the summer to not feel drained of purpose, to not feel as if I were floating in a universe without any aim to guide me, yet now I see a track so thin I must follow that the prospect weakens me to gaze at it. A tightrope would be more appealing than this vantage I’m offered.
I wrote months ago, in April, after a series of brutal storms:
Monday was windy. The skies were clear and the sun was high, but a storm was brewing past where the eyes could see. I saw signs of the coming catastrophe in news forecasts on TV, but as early in the day as it was, I paid them no heed: The storm would die not long after crossing the Mississippi when night fell. It wouldn’t be much more than rain before hitting my door.
I was wrong.
Monday was a long day following a long weekend following a long week (that itself was only slightly longer than the weekend prior, which also–as I’m sure you can now imagine–followed an atypically long week). One might wonder how one week can be longer than the week before if time is conserved, but even if this is so, time–as the fourth dimension–can only be perceived from the side through our poor minds that constrict us to this three-dimensional world. Time is constant, but our perception of time is not. And about this time every semester, time tends to travel slowly and yet too fast all at the same time. It might be a feat of nature how this happens, or it might simply be a flaw of human psychology.
In any case: Despite my homework piled high, I fell asleep before midnight.
Some might say, “Wonderful!” but I said, “Wonderful” (can you hear the sarcasm just dripping from each of those nine beautifully pixelated letters?). I needed not sleep but study–and when I fell asleep, I lost hours of time studying spent completing my homework that was due on Wednesday–the same day as my next physics test. So when I woke up and it was dark, I washed my face and brushed my teeth and spent about twenty minutes reading from my physics book before turning my new (and much-used) bedside lamp off for the night.
Once again, I was wrong.
If memory serves (and why should it? I pay it no wages and slavery is as much a task to the slave-master as the slave), that night we were jolted from sleep to the sirens of a tornado warning. We were led downstairs and made to sleep in the living room, to listen to the weather radio and keep the TV on all night, and in this state of simplistic worry and aggravated irony we waited out the storm till morning.
If memory should even be polite enough to conspire a mask of servitude, it was that next morning when I arrived on campus that I found it amess with fallen trees everywhere, one of which was an iconic staple that now is heralded by an uncanny emptiness, another draped across a railed walkway still scarred by the storm’s might.
I mused to my friend last week, should I go to State, I might add a meteorology major to complement my extensiveness in math. I’ve always been fascinated by the weather, the promise of storms and the chaos they reek, yet would the study be to my tastes? For the sake of this argument, neither would matter. It is the prospect of time, of foretelling, that allures the procedures of forecast to my foolishness.
To see tomorrow, to plan, to know, has always been a deep desire. I should like to see ahead so I can breathe a sigh of relief knowing it will all work out, knowing that what chaos I’ve injected into every artery and vein will be calmed to cool order by the course of a few days’ time, that everything in time will truly be where it is meant to be, for although I shall stick to that philosophy, my credo and my temperament together, can one ever be certain of anything, even the beliefs to which they wholeheartedly prescribe themselves?
Time is not on our side, I conclude. When we want it most, we have it least, and when we need none of it, we have all of it. Perception is fluid and unreal, and yet it is our perception that we find hardest to change. As I write these words, those forces act further, keeping me from those things, with all my time left, I had forecast completed already, those things to which I must now rush to ensure timeliness and quality.
Nightmares, may it be. Dreams, of what is left there?
This is a passionless existence, but a temporary existence at that. From Calculus I have learned that things change slowest at their extremes, and given one week, or two, life will once more be a plane upon which all the nuances of a non-Euclidean universe will pronounce themselves to the skeptics and the humorous faithful, for all the world to declare in unison, Is there nothing more insane than a life of purpose? Is there nothing more to the meaning of life than to give life meaning? And of what purpose, of what life, must we prescribe ourselves to?
Things are slow on my outlook tonight. I see a point of inflection on the horizon, a shape forming from the rotation about an axis as yet unseen, and from this equation I can integrate only so skillfully where tomorrow may lead. An end, no doubt, but to what end are we leading ourselves, slaves to our own philosophies, to our own motives and moments?
Inertia, I say, take me away.