----Its a Beginning

FTLComm - Tisdale - April 16, 2000
Is it the end of night or the beginning of a new day? This picture was taken at 5:30 AM this morning and shows the streets wet with a light powdering of snow as the sun struggles to edge through the morning cumulus clouds.

How do we view the significance of time and its passage. It is one of those topics that has eluded us for all of time. Temporal considerations are so much of every thought we have and yet we spend significant amounts of conscious thought on what has been and pondered with trepidation that which is to be, whilst that which is, the here and the now, dives by us in an continuing unending stream.

It is nice and tidy for our stories to have beginnings and endings, it makes for better memory preservation if we can identify the start of an event and select a marker that will terminate that sequence. But the rising of the sun is no more significant then its setting, nor is this moment more important then the one that will follow it, or the one that went before.

It was a snow cover -25 day in 1969 as my wife and I shepherded a car that we had just bought up the highway from Edmonton to the ValleyView / Whitecourt area. We had been following a large semi overloaded with a tank that was creeping along and we had so far to go that day and needed to get by the slow moving vehicle. I had crept up behind the rear duals in the plume of snow coming up off the highway and was trying to see by, so that I could safely pass. My wife had undone her seat belt and was up near the windshield looking into the snow. It was perhaps only twenty-five feet away when I saw the on coming car, it had entered the snow kicked up by the front of the truck and was angling toward the back and that was where we were moving along at about thirty-five miles an hour.

I saw the car, watched it impact the front of ours, seen the hood crumpling in front of me, recognising that a head on collision would under these circumstances be fatal, I was distressed at the end of my life but accepted it, as there was no immediate alternative, I noted that this would mean the destruction of the brand new battery my father had installed in that vehicle for me and seen my wife's head hit the windshield which caught her and she reacted from the blow and landed back on the seat beside me, meanwhile the hood was now obscuring the view outside, I had distorted the steering wheel with the impact, my seat had broken from the floor and pinned my chest against the crumpled steering wheel. It was silent.

The deafening roar of the collision was gone. I set the steering wheel and column on the floor between my legs pushed back the damaged seat and discovered that I had a tiny scratch from the gear shifter on my right arm, no other apparent injuries. A fraction of a second ago I had recognised the end of my life, now it was clear that my preception of finality was over stated.

The signifigance of that event was to me apparent, though without the seat belt it would have been the conclusion to my life, it was also clear that since I had avoided death, that each day thereafter was in fact a complete and total bonus.

As the sun drills little holes in the overcast sky alighting the morning, is this the beginning of another day, the continuation of a month of cold weather, the beginning of a new week, Easter week, or is it just the routine passing of the sun's terminator across the landscape. No more and no less significant then a few hours earlier when darkness had also slipped silently over the land.

The essential point that we have to accept is that though the hands on a clock will measure temporal reality our minds will auto-adjust reality to the level of perception at the time. We can see time laying upon us like a vast infinite weight or it can be a flicker. In either extreme it is completely elastic, in the length of time it takes for a car travelling at sixty miles an hour to run through the hood of my car travelling at thirty-five miles an hour, a combined speed of one hundred thirty-nine feet in one second, or 1/19th of a second for the incident to take place I evaluated the situation, determined this would kill me, mourned the loss of a brand new twelve volt battery, seen my wife who's life was more dear to me then my own existence threatened as she impacted the windshield and flew back to land on the seat beside me. I saw and experienced all that in the time it takes for your television to refresh two frames on the screen.

If there is a message in this page it is this, the components of each individual's reality are almost entirely made of beginnings and it is within the power of the individual himself or herself to fabricate their own experience from the circumstances confronting them. Take this moment and make it significant.

By: Timothy W. Shire

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