The Arrogance of Time

“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” Dr. Seuss

In my remote cocoon, rolled up in a blanket, secured to the double wide chair I used to hate, and now love, gazing out over the expanse of the lake, the steadfast mountain, the “unmentionable” fog, I’m thinking about the arrogance of time and how swiftly we mutate as if a caterpillar from chrysalis to adult.

I am often deceived by the endless charm of time, disguised as a gift, but somehow pompous as a politician whose false assurances serve no one. 

You know what I mean?

The conceit of a system so dedicated to it’s own perpetuation it fails those it’s obligated to assist, one who is incapable of turning back his scrawny arms of time, always marching forward, as if a well trained soldier who refuses to stop the trajectory of the front line, oblivious to the multiplicities it has overrun, left in ruins, laid flat in it’s overarching objective to never surrender to the moment.

Fuck you is the epithet I want to use, but I’m silenced by my dowdy manners, as I dig for the right words to describe what I immure in my mind, this persistent unease, simular but not the same as grief, a sort of angst that has settled into my bones? 

Time and death seem to be marching in formation and I’m annoyed with their ruthless precision.

Speaking of marching…box after box we carry across the street, my daughter, husband, son and son-in-law, wrestling a life’s worth of valuables, stashed for a year in my garage, and now being reconveyed to their new dwelling…the clothing, the linens, the toys, the plates, the spices, the tupperware, the couches, cushions, and mirrors, followed by tables, dressers, beds, and bikes. The movement back and forth across the street reminds me of a beehive, as the workers gather their loot, returning to the hive, with the queen bee (Julie) directing the entire production. 

“Honey, do we really need this?”

“Mom, is this couch to heavy for you?”

“Dante, can you help us carry this in the house?”

“Dad, when you finish putting in the new toilet, can you start on the bunk beds for the twins.”

After two days Larry and I escape to the lake to rest our weary muscles and recover our ailing limbs. Our exhaustion is as mysterious to us as our grey hair and wrinkles. How did we arrive at old age where energy is as extravagant as premium gasoline? 

Larry says to me, “it feels good to be back up here after such a long break.” He seems so relaxed, smiling as he opens a nice bottle of GiaDomella Cab, splashing a taste into each of our glasses.

I nod my head, but totally disagree, we both live in want of being in the place we are not, we’ll call it irreconcilable desires, a flume we’ll never bridge, being here and not being here is simply how I measure time.

“Come back,” are words I rotate as if laundry in the drum of my mind, seriously, I’m haunted by these spinning thoughts, and as you know if I have to deal with it, so do you.  

I want to be at the lake (think writing, water, wineries), he longs for the established routines of home (think biking, breakfast, and boot camp), what keeps us apart is what we think we need. Isn’t that always the case.

After the dishes are stacked in the washer, the counters wiped clean, the smell of pan fried ribeyes still lingering in the air, we retire to the long green couch, sipping the last of the red wine, watching the glowing embers of a duraflame log start to fade, discovering again the seduction of wordless moments, the endless ticking of the clock, both of us lost in our own thoughts.

We sit, this man and I, our aging bodies so different from when we first met, closer now to the end then to the beginning of life, as he rubs life back into my icy feet, the dog wedged between us as if a needy child. The winter is barren, just like me, I gaze at the rippling moon river reflected on the placid lake, envied by the stars, as I envy the spring in the winter of my years.

I wonder about the world my granddaughters will inhabit, one that I will never know, or the world that has passed away, one that they will never understand. And I worry that this entire year spent sheltering in place, suspended, unheralded, trapped in the amber of the moment, is the year we collectively failed to seize?

Our home of thirty years will be dismantled when we return, as the kids vacant our guest rooms, we prepare to demolish the old tile in the kitchen, tear out the dysfunctional appliances, cabinets, even some walls, essentially refurbishing the hearth of our home, as inhumanly as fire extirpates a forest. 

Kelley is coming home in a few days, maybe to see it all one last time, before the demolition, perhaps to capture some unretrievable moment in time? 

I’ve lived most of my life with unfashionable finishes, part of me wants this new kitchen, so in some rare form of insanity, I too can be redone. As Jennifer Elisabeth says don’t worry if people think you’re crazy. You are crazy. You have that kind of intoxicating insanity that lets other people dream outside of the lines and become who they’re destined to be.

Julie said to me in the car the other day, “your past self doesn’t need you, but your future self does.” That sort of stopped me in my tracks. What am I doing today to enhance my destiny?

We have three days up at the lake before we return to the nest, the upheaval, the metamorphosis. Our trinity of days will be filled with trips to Lakeport in-between hours of work, walks in the neighborhood, quiet dinners for two, slumbering quietly beside each other as we have for decades. 

We’ve taken to enjoying our coffee in bed under the cover of morning, him watching the news, me writing these words, lost in a dual retrieval of consciousness. The process is slow, lumbering, gentle. This is who we’ve become?

He works at the game table which as you know is cattywampus to the long green couch, me at the generous kitchen counter, I have to take down the “save water, drink wine” sign so my students won’t see this aspect of their teacher, pristine, neutered, sub rosa. We’re studying the Holocaust this week, determining the depth of evil man is capable of enacting on those considered subhuman, without dignity, inferior. Is it not so different today? How we scapegoat others when we refuse to shoulder the burdens of our own decisions. 

I can’t help but wonder what might happen in the throws of a pandemic, with an invisible enemy, one who has defeated us in the most catastrophic of ways, one who targets the vulnerable, severing our ability to breath, zapping our strength, diminishing our reason. A nemesis who has taken down our global economy, wreaked havoc on all our lives, some more heinous than others. Who will be left to blame?

Our time at the lake is fruitful, the days pass quickly, our work here is done, but as Markus Zusak says, “she wanted none of those days to end, and it was always with disappointment that she watched this time come to an end.”

As we carry our bags to the car, fastening the dog cover to the back seat, resting our coffees in the cup holder before driving away from all that I desire, “come back,” I hear the words echo in my mind, pushing away the needs, the wants, the obligations that are calling us home.

What I’ll be missing tomorrow, is you next to me on the long green couch, sipping wine by the flickering embers of a duraflame log, discovering the seduction of wordless moments, moon rivers, and pitch dark nights. Oh, the arrogance of time, “come back,” I’m not finished fanning the embers of an aging courtship, I just put a dab of perfume behind my ear.

I’m Living in the Gap, clamoring for the lake, care to join me in the comments? 

Anecdotes:

  • “Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.” Lao Tzu
  • “The future is uncertain but the end is always near.” Jim Morrison
  • “I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.” Alan Wilson Watts

49 Comments

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  1. Even the luxury of a second home lake house can seem tiresome eventually. But this is such an excellent piece of writing, summing up what so many of experience and feel as we age. It has to be reblogged!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Pete, your words mean more to me then you’ll ever know. I’m always so unsure of my writing before I post, holding my breath, wondering if anyone will read these words, or understand my wayward thoughts? And when you say, “excellent piece of writing,” I’m overcome with joy. Thank you my friend, C

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on beetleypete and commented:
    A simply wonderful piece of writing from the lovely Cheryl Oreglia. She reflects on life as she grows older, in a way that so many of us can identify with. I urge you to use the link to read the full blog post. You will be glad you did.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Cheryl, great read! I am so aware of time. I can’t decide if it is my age or the pandemic that has turned this thought on full force. Thanks, It is comforting to know I am not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Terri, it’s comforting to know I’m not alone in my thoughts on aging. I agree, this pandemic has made me retrospective, I think it has something to do with our loss of control? I’ve lost control of time, of aging, of my freedom to move freely in the world. We’ve been infected with so much more than a virus. Hugs, C

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    1. Awe, thank you Elizabeth, it’s strange how distrustful I can be of my own thoughts? Right before I’m ready to hit the “publish” link I hesitate, worried I just cemented my fate, and no one will understand what I’m trying to convey? Thank you for grasping my mesaage with such care, C

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I have the same insecurities about my writing. I recently worked on a story about the 1973 Chilean Coup. A group of young swimmers were sent to Santiago from the US and got caught up in the bombings and shootings. I sent the story into a swim magazine I write for and was so nervous because it was unsolicited. I was sweating, waiting to hear if they wanted it!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s so exciting Elizabeth? Have you heard back yet? I remember reading a piece on your blog about this? Did you post the one you sent to the magazine? I want to read about it! C

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Thanks for your interest. I did blog about it while I was interviewing the coach and a swimmer. I originally sent it to SwimSwam for their website, but they said it was a better fit for their print magazine. Yay! I was so relieved they liked it! I’m waiting to post it to my blog after the March magazine is mailed out.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow Ed, “your eyes and ears, at various points it was as if you borrowed mine,” what an amazing compliment, this is always the intention with writing, you pray to hit the mark, thank you, C

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    1. Thank you Kim, I’m so grateful for you, and I have to say I am completely blown away by the interest in this post? It seems we’ve stumbled on a common thread of aging, time, and the pace at which life is passing. So good to know we’re not alone in this world, C

      Liked by 1 person

  4. One of the many things I love so much about your writing, Cheryl, is the significance you place on time–the passing of time and all that this means. I’ve been feeling with you along the way, with both the disruption and the preciousness of your kids returning back home, only to leave again, especially at this particular stage in life when those of us at a certain age have had so many leavings and losses, and of course more to come. You capture such poignancy in all of this with good humor, yes, but also with clear, unflinching eyes. Thank you for this one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Mary Ellen, there is always this pause before posting, a sliver of panic sets in, I question my intent, my clarity, my authcenticity, and then I force myself to “woman up” and hit the publish link, before heading to the kitchen for a refill, a distraction if I were being honest. I was surpised this morning by the response to this post, many of us must be feeling the wind of time as it goes swishing by during this stay-at-home edict. As you says “at a certain age there are many leavings and losses,” after giving an entire year to this pandemic we are all a little weary and lonely. To new beginnings as our lives begin to crack open such a perfect image of spring. Hugs, C

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  5. Please, please tell me you & Larry are moving across the street to live With Julieann & Nick during your remodel. . . Please, please? I can’t wait to read the ‘reverse prose’ from that perspective 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, that would be such sweet payback, wouldn’t it? But no, we’re spending some of the time at the lake and the rest held up in our room during the construction. Last night was the first night the kids spent in their new (your) house! The celebration was rather epic with the entire family gathered around their dining room table till the wee hours of the night, my daughter Kelley and her husband flew into town for the event! What a great house! We’re all so happy for them! C

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      1. That is so great to hear Cheryl! That house has been a special place for ~50 years of my life. Now hopefully, it will continue to be a special home for another 50+ years to Julie, Nick, and the girls, as well as Nick’s family and the Ogeglia clan. God bless you all, and may God’s love continue to burn brightly through those that dwell there. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. You have shared some interesting thoughts about time, Cheryl. Strangely, I think it is only when we are a bit older and the world slows down a little for us, that the march of time becomes so obvious. When we are in our middle years, we hardly notice its relentless march, because we are to busy rushing around to appreciate it’s passing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Robbie, I totally agree, with age comes wisdom, during the middle years our time is so packed with obligations it’s hard to recognize its passing or importance. Thanks for the comment I so appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me! C

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  7. Beautifully genuine Cheryl. I always look forward to reading your work. Time certainly has a way of passing before we know, unfolding to reveal the people were still becoming. ♥️ Your words truly resonate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, LaDonna, what a kind thing to say you “look forward to reading,” my work. That makes me enormously happy. I love how you describe time as an “unfolding to reveal the people we are still becoming,” that is so perfect. So glad this one resonated with you, all my best, C

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Jon, I love how you describe time as the “seemingly unavoidable acceleration of time’s passage with advancing years,” booyah! So perfectly worded. Mr. Watts certainly has a way with words, does he not? Our only illusion is anything but “the present.” Extraordinary! C

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    1. I’m so pleased you relate to this one Fraggle, I was a little leary about posting, thinking my rambling thoughts on time would fall flat, but the opposite was true, so many people said they felt much the same about the passage of time? I’m ever so please, hugs, C

      Liked by 1 person

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