Thursday, 29 December 2016

Marley's Chains

The moment has come, as it always does: the time to stand still, to take stock. The pause, the intake of breath, hold, then release, a moment so brief and yet...that instant can contain a lot: The beat of a heart, the blink of an eye, the throb of a pulse, nerve or muscle.
The tick of the second hand on a wall or mantel clock, and the strike of an unearthly hour when everyone, regardless of age, should ideally be in bed.
The BOOM of the sea as waves crash against weathered rocks or its shush -shush as it caresses the caramelised sand as if it were a silk sheet and the sand a person.
The whistle and POP! of fireworks going off with their streaks and wheels of colour, with oohs and aahs from the crowd as they watch.
Moments that can be pretty or beautiful but never both. Instants that can be monotonous or irksome but never concurrently. Moments that don't overlap, they just become something else. Instants that don't last and yet, don't entirely fade.
The anticipatory moment is often one that stays, the feeling of waiting remembered and not the actual waited-for, longed-for moment. Or the completely unexpected instant when suddenly everything becomes glittery yet sharp. And then there are those instants you'd rather forget but don't because, rather bizarrely, you've made a memory of them and so, they're forever fixed in that one frame of time, ready to be recalled, unbidden or at your bidding. Nobody really wants those, unless for some reason you need to feel. Something. Anything. And those ill-remembered instants bring release like cutting a vein. Whoa, there's anger; here comes tears; is that a flash of a fear?
In a fast paced world moments move so fast. Quicker than is good for your digestion. Decisions, in comparison, can seem slow, so that the moment is swallowed, gone, by the time a decision has been made. You've moved on, other moments have been created, your head space has changed.
You might say 'Life is...' moment to moment. A sequence of them, that unfurls, which appears scripted or random, because what appears is like genetics coding or some sort of computer programming; it could even be a musical score: the same grouped moments repeat, pause for a beat, repeat again, then there's a new, unrelated bar, and then a string of familiar moments which are somehow still different. There's lots of shuffling and reshuffling as if this code is being written as it's played. Each action, reaction accounted for; each happening internalised, then retained or dismissed. It's fascinating, this never-ending slip of paper, the width of which is the same as a till roll, of printed code that goes wherever you go, increasing in length like Marley's chains.
But the moments that stop, like when your heart skips a beat when you sneeze, are precious, similar to a gem that refracts light in a multitude of coloured spots and rays, or akin to something that's quaint, something that's usually only glimpsed on rare occasions and is discussed more than seen, but when actually viewed up close and not in a image on screen or in a photograph, then... Then time transfixes itself as if it were an old locomotive huffing-huffing into a station, its fuel spent and needing to take on more water, its passengers spilling out onto the platform, and that's when it happens – when the engine's puffing and panting and desperately trying not to die – time ceases for the merest interlude. The passengers almost hold their breath too. It's nothing, no time at all, and yet more than enough.
The person it's occurring to is hypnotised, and everything, everybody around them seems to travel at a reduced speed, as if they were in a zone where there were signs telling them to do so, and yet the enchanted is in a world of their own where things seem to have a magic cotton-wool quality. Soft and slightly muffled. Just as if old Marley might put in an appearance himself with his rattling chains.

Picture credit: Time Transfixed, 1938, Rene Magritte