Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Time was a thing of the past

As the quarantine wore on and the routines that structured our lives faded from memory, there emerged a new conception of time—one appropriate for a moment in which an hour could seemingly last a day and a week an hour. In other words, any dream we had of a highly efficient future dependent on the precise measurement of all things measurable gave way to an actual future whose nature was a lot more uncertain.

So fluid and ephemeral had time become that we had to come up with increasingly flexible ways to delineate it. For instance, I might tell someone that my birthday was on the Tweleventh of Maypril. We got rid of Monday, because no one liked it, and replaced it with an extra-long cycle called T’Whensday. You could make an appointment to meet somebody at Noone, as long as you both had the stamina to return to the spot again and again until that could be accomplished, which sometimes could take as long as a month.

A lot required changing in this time-dependent society. The trains no longer ran on time; they just ran constantly. Sometimes you would have to get on and off of oppositely bound trains several times to get to your desired stop. The standard practice in restaurants was to order several meals so that at least one of them would be ready before you had to leave. Television was nothing but CCTV feeds and drone footage, so no schedule was necessary.

One the bright side to this is that, because time was no longer a measurable quantity, a lot of the tired old bromides about it were no longer applicable. How could you “Live for today” if today only lasted a few seconds? and how could time be on your side when it was so obviously committed to flustering you on every level of consciousness?

As for myself, and as a writer, I am tempted not to end my stories because it is time that requires that those stories end. And if this story ends, it is because I fell asleep.