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  • Consciousness, gaining

    The greatest argument for the pure arbitrariness of our division of time is surely found in those fleeting moments of waking whose perceived length I can never seem to reconcile with the measurements of any clock. Our comprehension of the word moment is a strange thing anyway, I suppose. It is nothing short of baffling that we are perfectly comfortable with the idea that what we experience in a moment is infinite – infinitesimal, precisely – but can hardly fathom the idea that a single moment should span some finite range of minutes, seconds, partics, fermonds (I am just making up words now, but notice how little difference it makes to the meaning of the sentence). Hardly fathomable that perhaps the thing which spans a time, times, and half a time is an unvaryingly composed instance of time as homogeneous as processed cheese.

    You know, you’d write better if you weren’t so pretentious.
    [But I thought the line about the cheese broke the pretense?]
    I’m not sure that it did; you laid it on pretty thick just now.

    I wake up the precise moment that I hear my alarm this morning – I wake up at a piece of processed cheese which most clocks in this time zone would label as the period of time between 6:30 and 6:44. If math is the universal language, then I minored in language in college. Given the fact, however, that I am not even fluent in English for the first 20 minutes I’m awake, upon my rising I am able only to deduce (by the subtraction property of equality) that I have slept either 3, 4, or zero hours. (It was 3, I would later learn.)

    Oil. I believe the chemical definition of an oil is “a hydrophobic, often viscous liquid which will find its way from your hair and skin into your eyes in the morning, causing you incredible discomfort.” I plod towards the shower, my soles assiduous in acquiring a gritty coating from the fine layer of dust covering the cheap ceramic tile. I plod back to my room to retrieve my towel which I have left behind. I plod back to the shower with a bit more plod in my step this time. I lift the shower lever, and a tiny stream of water trickles out of the pores of the nozzle, arches its back for a moment in an attempt to free itself from the surface, and then wearily abandons the effort and slides down the side of the spout. I lower the shower lever. I am still not yet fluent in English, so I am content to merely curse the showerhead with a stare before staggering out of the bathroom, out of my apartment, out of my building and to the motorized water pump, which I switch on and off and jiggle a few times with a sense of purpose, and then walk back into my building, my apartment, my bathroom.

    I know that somewhere in the mysteriously purposeful jiggling I have re-routed a pipe because the water which now comes flowing abundantly from my shower seems to have glacial origins. Upon stepping into its stream I have a mystical experience which might possibly be described as the opposite of a moment: it is an infinitely long period of time, mystifyingly contained within the finite period of time which most clocks in this time zone would label as the span of minutes between 6:53 and 7:01. Epochs pass before my eyes. I watch milliseconds being born like children, watch children become men, watch men grow old, watch old men wither and pass away, and in all of this I age very little since my body is preserved in perfect cryogenic hibernation by the indescribable coldness that I am using to rinse the soap off it.

    When the final sud is banished, I reach for the lever and turn off the water (my hand seems to move through the air for eras, ages, hadrochs, megazons), the enchantment is lifted, and without the sound of running water I notice that the noise of my own breathing has become comically loud, as if my body had been trying to get my attention the entire duration of the shower by constricting my vocal chords into a wheeze of despair. But as I say, it is comical – it is the first thing which seems to be so this morning. I scuttle into my room after drying off. (Note that I have a variety of ways of moving back and forth between my room and the bathroom, scuttling and plodding being but two. Because of my disproportionately small bladder, this almost hourly pilgrimage is a sacred rite which I have perfected.)

    I pick out a sampling of clothes which I think will make my dashing 23-year old frame look the most like an elderly gentleman’s and settle into my chair in the corner. Today it is luke 10. I remain mostly unmoved until the story of martha and mary, during which a surrender takes place, and I must re-read until I am mary and I am sitting at the Lord’s feet and longing because I am martha also. Contemplation. And I light a candle and then more contemplation and something about time that is simpler than words can express and greater than the infinites which have visited my consciousness thus far. And now is when I pray for brothers and sisters and the world. And myself. And now “Our Father… for Thine,” I look up into the face which is a moment (or the opposite of it), and He is robed in blue, and in his hand he holds a book encrusted with jewels which seem to jump off the paper with the flicker of the candle,

    is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever and ever. Amen

    By · February 5, 2008 · contemplation, Featured · [Print]

    2 Comments to “Consciousness, gaining”

    1. aaron says:

      wordpress needs props like the old xanga because i don’t have anything to say except that i enjoyed the read.

    2. andy says:

      i look up into the face which is a moment (or the opposite of it)

      “wow,” i think.

      don’t know why that necessitated quotes, but it did.

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