The Transitory Nature of Time
Here today, gone tomorrow, but never forgotten. Time does not let us forget, even though the phrase ‘all is forgotten in time’ is oft said.
We connect past, present and future intuitively, yet time, really defies definition. We experience time by remembering our past, being aware of our present, and speculating wonder for our future.
The present is transitory in that it is ever flowing, constantly changing and almost magically transforming. This could be viewed as subjective time, that which has a direct relationship to the experiential moment.
In a religious sense, time is supposedly eternal. We will be, but time will have no meaning. Did you ever wonder then if when trees move on to a higher plane, do they change color for beauty and enjoyment for all? My imagination wanders on occasion.
Go into the white light my young friend, time is eternal. A little levity for those involved in squirrel warfare.
Time is a building block of our very existence. Poets, philosophers and scientists are good at expressing what they believe to be time and our human sense of its passage.
The task is not so much to see what no one has seen, but rather to think what no one yet has thought about which everybody sees.
As a youngster, we think in terms of the future but as we age, we slowly transition into living in terms of the past. Living takes place in the now, in the moment of which it is taking place. So is this not a dichotomy of awareness?
Too Slow for those who Wait,
Too Swift for those who Fear,
Too Long for those who Grieve,
Too Short for those who Rejoice;
But for those who Love,
Time is not.
Henry Van Dyke
The Red Spire Pear through time.
The image to the right was shot on Sunday. The leaves were picked today. Don’t time and weather make a great team, with the leaves getting prettier day by day? More leaves are red rather than bright gold. So many are green and orange, too; and all from the same pear tree. Even the shapes vary.
An odd thing happens to those that garden. They look forward to the future more than most. We plant bulbs we hope to see flower. We plant trees we hope we will live to see tower. We dream and plan, we plant and question, we watch as they grow, whither and emerge. A cyclical process. Time in motion with an active awareness.
Are we the only creatures in nature to ponder this phenomenon, the relationship between the past and future? Without an understanding of the past, imaginative thought and foresight, the present is all we can hope to experience. And if you really think about it, the present barely exists at all. No sooner than an experience occurs, it is already the past. Since the future is a construct of the mind, it also does not exist.
We see time with movement in a straight line. Yet, the earth revolves and the seasons return. Personally, I prefer to see time as cyclical, although intellectually I can surmise this is wrong. I just like the image of time revolving, like the familiar image of a clock. It simplifies such a complex and abstract model.
Nature has a way of expressing time where no physical clock is needed. But physics postulates time in a curvature, where time is slow and not a time dimension. The shape is outward, growing and curved. Not as elegant of an image of time to me, although I imagine physicists would heartedly disagree.
We can see the effects of time over time. Aiding weather with transformation and taking a really long time as a matter of fact.
And time leaves an impression in more ways than one. Fossilized leaves and animals are a picture in time, yet they are also a product of time. Stamped into stone, becoming stone, a literal garden on a rock face, nature’s art and nature’s tablet of time. So much to see, so much to imagine.
And an astronomer said, “Master, what of Time?”
And he answered:
You would measure time the measureless and the immeasurable.
You would adjust your conduct and even direct the course of your spirit according to hours and seasons.
Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing.
Yet the timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness,
And knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream.
And that which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling within the bounds of that first moment which scattered the stars into space.
Time XXI Kahil Gibran (partial )
We subjectively experience time mostly when we ask for the time. It has a physical embodiment in the clock. But time also has a psychological aspect as well. We can sense time flying by, and the opposite, where time drags. Paths can be created and designed to slow physical movement, therefore instilling the slowing of psychological time. But since time can not be quantified with a beginning or end, where does that leave us?
The Relation of Being and Becoming
In a strictly narrow sense, being is now, what is, and what exists in life, actuality and reality. In a metaphysical sense it is the soul, spirit, nature and essence.
In design we can strive to create a metaphysical moment through the reality of form. We are situated in site but transforming in conceptual and intellectual philosophy. Finding a way to create mood and sense of place, while adding mystery, surprise and journey. Creating a being imbedded in a becoming.
The circle is an object of nature, a product of pure mathematics, and a framework to which we use to describe and make sense of our world. The time I like to imagine.
“God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”
It is an ancient symbol of unity, wholeness, infinity, female power, and the sun. I bet you never look the same at a simple circle in your landscape again.
A circle is not just a circle.
A design can take you on a literal path (a being) or one of imagination or emotion (a becoming). A good design is not linear in concept, like the most common view of time, but has a bit of abstraction, wonder and wander, an outward and continuing growth. A different view of course.
This path wanders in a graceful way, it also makes you want to know where it goes and what you will find. You can see the abstract art off in the distance. You go from classical to abstract on your journey.
This design was created specifically for the daughter of a client’s outdoor wedding. The circle is a reference to the circle of life and all the white flowers, the traditional color of weddings, for example. But at closer inspection, the circle is completed by the mind’s eye, yet, has a means to be continuing and growing. Like a marriage.
A garden landscape is not just about being, it is also about what is becoming. And becoming has no terminus as it is always expanding and evolving. Even a bird’s nest adds to the complexity of change and becoming.
One thing learned is that a design is never done. In buildings, weathering and time reminds one that a building’s surface is ever-changing. In landscape the seasons brown the leaves only to renew and refresh them green again. Plants grow and plants replace. Forests experience succession and fire both destroys and creates. Cyclical. Life is changing with the help of time.
Time plays an integral role in good design and good designers have a plan in motion to deal. Time weighs heavily on your structures, gardens and life. Acknowledging, accepting and adapting the part that time plays will lighten the load. And sometimes, time is only thyme.
Check back next Monday for May Dreams Garden, Gardens Bloggers’ Bloom Day. My plan is to show more plants and garden objects that have been touched by the hand of time.
Blooms not forgotten, yet sure to be seen again.