In a quaint little town, on a quaint little cobblestone corner, sat a quaint little man neath an umbrella. Above him read a sign of a quaint little cafe where his delicate sips could be heard over the pattering of a hazy summer rain. He smelled of peppermint and old newspaper, with a hint of coffee. His body sat in a relaxed position, his hand delicately balancing a steaming cup of coffee in one hand while keeping a folded newspaper on his crossed knee. His eyes moved like the minute hand of a clock, taking in every little moment around him. He saw a lady in pink narrowly miss a puddle, completely unaware of her potential soggy accident. He saw a smug little pug eating a child's pastry while the father and owner both were lost in their separate moments. He could hear the phone ringing continuously inside the cafe as the baker mindlessly went about his task.
These were the moments he found to be most interesting. There were tiny fragments when time seemed to pay no heed to humans, or we paid it no heed. Each person in some manner or fashion sustained their own time, like tiny planets, each on their own gravitational pull - until those little time spheres collide and suddenly they become one time, one place, one meaning.
He heard the cry of the woman in pink as she stepped into another puddle. The suddenly disheartened cry of a boy who has had his pastry eaten and the reproachful reply of the father to the owner. The shouts of the baker could be heard in a sudden frantic to his helping hand to grab the phone.
He smiled. Ahh the mystery of time. Would not each person remember those moments when their little spheres of time and space collided? Would they not forget those quiet peaceful moments where they existed outside of time and space? Why is it we humans are in the habit of forgetting ourselves in the very act of superseding time and space and only remember ourselves in the disorder of confused and disrupted time?
He sighed and gave a long steady slurp, a long steady, “hmmmmm,” to the many question the pondered. A drop landed reproachfully upon the brim of his hat, his steady eyes watching it collect and fall into his cup with a soft plop. Another drop hit his hand and began to trickle down his finger, he gently let the drop onto his knee where it sat for moment, quivering in solitude until it began collecting the drops around amassing a tiny rivulet that swirled in a rambunctious stream down his parka. Cascading onto the wet stone, joining the growing stream into the gutter where you could hear it roar dully as it emptied into the ground one day to resurface.
Perhaps time was like that tiny rain drop? Time comes to us as a tiny fluid fragment of time and space, quintessential non threatening or specifically valuable, but fragile and delicate. Yet we choose the path it takes. We can guide it down a path where it gains speed and mass, until its trajectory so large and fast that it completely defines us and overpowers us. Or we choose to let it fall where it may, like the drop in the cup, and absorb it affects and in turn embrace it into ourselves. Time like this drop of water, will eventually, no matter its path, return to the ground, yet in doing so will become a drop once more and begin anew. Does not time come and run its course only to sink away into the ground, then resurrect? Is that not what history is? The living and dying of a sphere of time? A droplet that has run its course in the path of a much larger storm?
Was time meant to to run its course, and end, or in fact was time always made to resurrect and start once more? What of death? What of life? Do not men die, while babies are born? Do not stars die and in turn create new stars? Do not even plants die and in turn bear new seeds? How can time co-exist in a place void of time?
What of our ability to shape time? Do not most of us live in fear of time, as if our hearts have a built in measure that weighs our actions in accordance to our time? What would happen if we stop running from time, like a fox fleeing from a pack of bloodhounds, and realized that we have power over time - we can neither stop it, nor reverse or fast forwards its effect, yet we hold the power to shape the course it will take in our lives.
His thoughts were cut short as the woman in pink tromped over sulking.
“One would think they would have the decency tomend public roads. This is ridiculous and absurd, I could have sprained my ankle!” She whined to the him, grabbing the chair next to him for support while trying to drain muddy water from her soiled pink shoe. He gave her a nod and grunt.
“I mean just look at me! I’m going to be late now and look disastrous. This bakery probably doesn’t even have a decent ladies room, ugh. Of course he wouldn’t, just look at those windows. I don’t have time for this nonsense.” With that she shoved her foot back into its wet pink capsule and stormed off.
He watched her dance around puddles. Is that what we do with time? Are we like the woman in pink? So focused on going somewhere we lose sight of the present? We blame our blindness to adversity pointed at stopping us from getting somewhere else? In the process of trying to go somewhere we miss out on everything around us, and see everyone and everything as an obstacle and hassle, an obtrusion to block our path.
Are we all just dancing around puddles of time, completely unaware that we are missing the very somewhere we need for an idea of somewhere we think we want?
“I want another one!” cried the little boy pulling at his father's arm who was now in a heated debate with the pugs owner about keeping control over his animal before getting up abruptly taking the boy by the hand.
“Let’s go home and mommy will make supper.” To which the boy only pulled harder, his voice more urgent.
“No no no I want new one!”
His dad only pulled harder, “Not now Damion, it’s supper time.” By now the boy had fully thrown himself into a tantrum screaming and rolling on the ground demanding a new sweet pastry. He watched the father lose his patients and succumb to the child's cravings.
“Ok, stop crying, I’ll get you another one, now get up.”
The boy immediately stopped his antics and wore the smug pleasant smile of a true shakespearian actor. As he watched them enter and purchase a new pastry. He thought of the boy, and his father.
Was that perhaps how we treat time? With contempt and an unsatisfying craving? Are we led along by time, giving it power over us because we can’t stand up and face the real issues in front of us? Are we all just chasing after the guise of what we really want, that new one we can never have? Have we given time the power to control us all because we never learned to say no? We never learned discipline? Honor? Thankfulness? In our lust for that, “new one,” have we lost all virtue and moral consciousness? Have we all become hopeless romantics living proud of our shakespearian guise? But what of us when the curtain falls? What of us when the lights turn off? What of us when someone finally says no? What of virtue and morality? Does time demand the virtuous and moral man?
The shrill ring of a bell chased away his train of thought, as the boy and his father exited the bakery, the boy skipping happily with sticky fingers and cheeks, dragged along by his father. The baker followed them out waving them off, his floured hands fluttering like a white flag atop a ship at sea. He gave a happy sigh and wiped his beaded brow with his long bakers sleeve, sending softs clouds of flour aloof like a madam powdering her face.
Pulling the chair out, he fell into it exhausted, having been awake long before anyone ever roused there dreary eyes. Yet still, he worked.
“Fine day to dine on hot toast and coffee is it not!” He declared beaming with a smile, his plump red face soaking in the cool rain drops. “It makes me happy to see children out with their fathers like that!” He said nodding towards the boy and father. “Oh and of course to have you enjoying the paper! Good news I suspect!” The baker said with a wink.
Looking there at that happy baker, the old man thought that he must indeed know what time is.
A man who rises and lives outside of a time when most are asleep or taking off work, here he is working. But not just working - creating. Is that what time is - like this baker who is so caught up in the work of making something valuable to him, that he loses track of time. Does he not exist outside of time, he cares little for the changes of the world, and knows only of his little shop. Time will pass and change but he will remain, he will still be there making bread with his hands, and sleeping well at night, knowing he provided for himself and for others? He is so caught up in the act of making that he invites others into his time. Customers come and go, they adjust their times to intersect with his. He lives in the present, yet somehow shapes time itself. He creates moments of intersection through the simple love of making bread and the joy of doing it.
Is this baker not like time itself? Does not time ask of us to be present, yet by remaining out of time, we in turn, create time in and of itself? We shape time by shaping the space and projections of the around us - drawing them into our sphere and allowing them to collide, like the drop of water into coffee. We do not resist those ripples, but embrace them into our being, and in turn shape the time around us. Is not time like dough, being kneaded and worked out constantly?
“You know, I’ve been meaning to ask yer- “ The Baker interjected his thoughts. “I mean I see you as a regular here but I’ve never actually asked what it is you do?”
Smiling kindly. the old man replied, “I am a man much like yourself good sir.”
The Baker looked slightly surprised, “You mean you’re a baker too?”
“No, I am an artist.”
To which the baker replied by slapping his knee. “I’m no painter like yourself, never was good with a brush or pen.”
“I do not paint. I am a watchmaker.”
He looked at me blankly.
“I studied time.”
“How does that work?” asked the baker, inquisitively.
“I listen. Always listen. To make sure time is always beating nice and steady. Never too quick, nor too slow. I can hear a flutter in a watch, as a surgeon would a heart...” I turned to the baker,
“...or as a baker would know his dough. It is not my job to change it, merely keep it progressing on, I wait and I listen, keep it wound, keep it ticking. Knowing when to step in, and when to stand back. For it is my job to hear the faults that no one hears, and rejoice in the workings that no one sees. That is my art.” I slowly nod towards the baker. “And that is your art. You alone knows the faults of the dough, when it’s right, when it’s not. You alone know the heat and precision of amounts of yeast. I do not. That is you, you see?”
Slowly a smile dawned across his red, powdered face, his eyes dazzled and his hands played the air. He closed his eyes as if tasting of some unseen beauty and proclaimed aloud,