I’ve had the notion for years that there’s a gap between time. Minutes and seconds are all linked together on a very long chain. But, much as a chain, these links swell and taper. If you follow the link around, you find tiny gaps between in every single one. When they’re trucking right along, though, you’d barely notice.
We’ve all had days where everything was just a half-beat off. Catching every red light on the way to work. Answering your cell phone when no one’s calling, just to have it ring a few seconds later. Seeing the full arc of a story before it’s concluded, and having no reason why.
That last one is when I first put a name to the experience – simply, slipping between the seconds. While it had occurred before, this one stuck with me. Largely, because of the moment’s simplicity.
I was living in Reading, and had just given my bi-weekly plasma donation. At the time, my rent was $250 for a studio apartment. These appointments added up to $50 a week – so, with a maximum allowable seven visits a month, my rent was being paid rather nicely. Stack that with my having just left the golf course to become a busboy in a suit, along with my beginning classes at Reading Area Community College, and I thought I was the hottest turd in two shoes. The treatment left me with track marks from the 16 gauge needle on my right arm that requires clarification on damn near any medical form I’ve ever filled out.
I was in a pawn shop killing time until my bus arrived after one of these treatments. It was an otherwise average day. I thumbed through their guitars, video games, and a few CDs (remember those? - they’re like vinyls, only smaller, kids. Damn hipsters; ruining music for everyone). The last disc – the one I ended up purchasing – was by an artist I was fond of at the time, Olive. As I looked at the back of it, I suddenly knew every song on there. I had full memories of every single one – lyrics, harmonies, all of it. I was a little freaked out, but intrigued to see if my brain was just recalling some old Beast Wars theme music again, so, I bought it.
Forty-five minutes and a whole playthrough later, I realized I had heard that exact album, in its entirety, before. I had – for a split second – seen the arc of my decision to buy the album and listen to it, and, had maintained that fragment of awareness. Philip K Dick has a great story about a man using a finely crafted machine that magnifies the curve of time, making the future visible in the present. High science fiction/fantasy, but the concept is applicable.
|Before the additional lighting|
Other times, I can feel my body “hiccup,” dropping between the seconds. These are the times I feel overwhelmingly creative, as if there’s no natural force that can inhibit my crafts. When I find myself particularly “stuck,” I take a few minutes to refocus, allowing myself to fall in stride with this irregular rhythm. Just yesterday, I was trying to install an elaborate recessed lighting configuration in the new place. I kept hitting road blocks while trying to get the cords to stay in place. Took a break, sat on the floor, did a mini meditation, and – boom! – idea time. Grabbed three bits of cable and began braiding them like yarn. This shortened the cables while adding the support I needed. Zip ties to cinch up the rest.
|After the lighting|
Let me tell you: zip ties? – they’re the duck tape of our generation. Seriously. I will never be without a bag of at least one hundred ever again. Pure. Lifesavers.
In the past month and a half, I’ve been doing a lot of mini zen-esque exercises to keep myself in this mindset. While helping with practical things (see: above) and less practical things (see: everything else), it’s been helping to open my mind to all of the writing that I’ve been trying to do. Going from next-to-no output to a daily quota requires the gray matter to breathe a little, and I’ve been bad the past few days. From not having written this whole weekend, my brain feels a bit daft and exhausted.
Well, it could also be from moving a 26-foot truck’s worth of stuff, plus five carloads, into a new home, that has a library (not a book room: library) on the second floor. Thank you to my darling wife for organizing that beast, by the way (I thank her, but I know there was no way in hell she’d let me put it back together. Well trained, I am.)
Slow down and get a feel for those gaps in time. Hold your breath, and jump into those spaces until covered tip-to-toe in the sensation. I’m not saying stop and smell the roses – you should be doing that already. I’m saying to take some time to see every scenario from every vantage point. Slip between the time that’s forcing you to make a decision. Making no decision is still making a decision, but, what about making the decision that does not factor into all current outcomes? When free of the regular notions of what is possible, it’s much easier to envision the impossible making that a regular notion.