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Time is an Illusion

Updated: Nov 6, 2020

Douglas Adams' "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" has a line in it that has always stuck out to me.:

"Time is an Illusion. Lunchtime, doubly so"

In the story, Arthur is trying to stop a company from tearing down his house. His friend, Ford, shows up and tells Arthur to leave with him. Arthur refuses so he can focus on saving his house, but Ford seemingly convinces the company's foreman to wait until Arthur returns. As they leave, Arthur asks Ford how much he trust the guy. Ford says to the end of the world which he then says is only 12 minutes away.

When we think of a term or phrase like "Until the end of the World" or "'Til the end of Time", we think of things like "Forever" or "Eternity" or, at the very least, a really far point in the distant future. The older we get, the more and more clear it becomes that "forever" isn't that far away; that time, as we seem to understand it, truly is just an illusion.

When I think of a "Lifetime", let's say in the context of a Lifetime Achievement Award, you think of a professional that spent decades honing and perfecting their craft, skill, or talent, and making a lasting impression on their industry. At the same time, I think of a Lifetime equally being decades upon decades.

Today, a friend of mine told me that a friend of hers just lost her child that was less than a year old. Today, I also found out that a friend of mine passed away at the age of 36. A few weeks ago, my friend lost her sister at age 37. Earlier this year, in August, a three year old girl was murdered locally while a five year old boy was murdered in North Carolina. About a month ago, my cousin was murdered at age 17.

The oldest person I mentioned was 37. Life expectancy is America is just shy of 80 years. That's less than half. My cousin was less than a quarter of that and there were a few far younger.

This post isn't meant to be a downer. It's meant to be a reminder. A reminder that tomorrow isn't promised to anyone. Death doesn't recognize Class or Race or Gender or Orientation. That time really is an illusion and we can't allow mirages of the future to grant us false comforts in the present.

So call your friend. Write your mother a letter. Text that guy/gal you're only friends with on Facebook. Have a COVID safe coffee with a neighbor.

I think I'll end this with a paraphrase of the title: Time is an illusion; a Lifetime doubly so.

- Moon

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