Saturday, July 18, 2009

And of a sudden, one finds that time has run out

Trains of thought drifting idly into strange directions...

Kafka's Before the Law is to a great degree about how people will do anything not to do what's needed to realize what they think they want—and probably actually do want. Until it's too late, that is; and then they can't do a damn thing...because, well, it's too late, and nothing they'll do will make a difference anymore, because the time for doing it has come and gone. Forever. Forever for this life. And since there's only one of those it is indeed forever for all eternity.

All that's left is usually bitter regret, which is, if the person concerned is capable of it, followed by endless rationalizations as to why it's either OK that things turned out as they did, or why they 'should have', or else by depression and the darkness accompanying the deep knowledge, no matter how hidden, that one has failed—and that one only failed because one didn't 'do' when one should have. In other words, there really is only one and only person to blame for the dismal position one has ended up in.

There are two basic rules of thumb when it comes to 'life'. They are not absolute, but they apply almost universally—with the odd exception.

Rule 1: Time probably is not on your side, unless you can prove, beyond reasonable doubt, that it is.

If anything it works against you in every way conceivable. Every heartbeat brings you closer to death: that's a given, no matter how long you live. Every heartbeat also takes you closer to, and ultimately carries you past, life's (missed) opportunities and milestones.

It can't be overemphasized how dreadfully final and unforgiving time is. And every opportunity that drifts past is indeed an opportunity gone forever. It doesn't matter how we rationalize that we didn't grasp it, or whether the reasons given are valid or not. Contingency doesn't give a shit. Opportunity gone. Forever. Period.

Corollary to Rule 1: There's never enough time to do what wasn't done when one missed one's chance to do it.

There are no exceptions to this rule. None. That's 'none'. Not a one. There never were, there aren't and there never ever, in the entire future history of the cosmos, will be any such exceptions.

Rule 2: Only dead fish go with the flow.

This saying has recently been revived by a certain US politician. I rather like it, though I've been known to tell people to 'go with the flow' and stuff like that. Thing is, if the fish is alive, it will actually not just 'go with the flow', but it'll use it to get where it is going to get there faster. Unless it swims against it, like Salmon for example, when they work their way upstream against some pretty formidable odds and forces. That is an option, of course, though it's kind of exhausting, and it'd better be worth it!

This is, of course, the point: it's not about going with the flow, but using it.

Don't just be a dead fish. You'll just start to smell. Very badly.

What turns a live fish into a dead one? (Yes, I know, I'm running the metaphor ragged!)

The usual suspects. Rationalization. Denial. Bullshit reasons that seem true and valid, but really are born out of the fear of facing that which might really make a difference to our lives—for a change. It's so much easier, by and large, just to carry on as things are. Even if it means that opportunities drift past.

Never to return.

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