Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Time Enough? (an IWSG post)

"People assume that time is a straight progression of cause to effect but, actually, from a non-linear, non-subjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey... stuff."

Of course, what I want to do is get all philosophical about time, about how time is finite, about what it would be like to be able to step outside of time... Except I can't really imagine that. My view of time is kind of like a painting. Or, maybe, a movie. Time only exists within the movie and, if you could only step out of it, you could see the whole thing at once, be in any part of it. That kind of thing. Except, conceptually, as soon as I remove myself from the movie, I put myself in another one, because I still imagine a sequence of events and, without time, there can't be a sequence, so it's not something I can properly imagine.

None of that is what I really want to talk about anyway...

Sometimes, there are events that remind us of the finite-ness of time, that there will be an ending. At least, for us. Well, for all of time, but I expect TIME to go on much for much longer than I will. At any rate, the sudden departure of Tina Downey of Life Is Good from TIME has served as a reminder. Time is, after all, finite. There's a deadline on the things I want to accomplish in life.

I suppose most people have all sorts of things they want to accomplish and that they all feel like they have plenty of time in which to do it. There's always tomorrow, right? But there's not always tomorrow, and, sometimes, tomorrows quit coming sooner than we think they will.

I know that Tina was writing a book. Mostly, though, I think she was working on the writing skills she would need to really write the book. What it means, though, is that I'll never get to read the book. Neither will you. And, you know, maybe it wouldn't have been any good and, in the scheme of things, it doesn't matter, but, maybe, it would have been life-changing. For me. Or for you. Or for someone. That book that really inspired a life and changed its course.

We'll never know.

I have a lot of books like that. Unfinished ones, I mean; I'm not claiming that I'm writing great, life-changing, works of literature. I have PROJECTS! The idea that I could leave TIME with them unfinished... well, it kind of panics me. I don't want to leave things unfinished. Well, I don't want to leave these things unfinished. I'm sure I will always feel that way about whatever projects I have in the works, but other projects are in the future, and I have nothing invested in that stuff yet. These things, these things I have going on now, I know I don't want to leave still in progress. Especially the stuff that relates to The House on the Corner. Too many people ask me when the next when will be finished for me to be okay with just not doing it.

None of this is meant to change the focus from Tina's passing out of TIME, but it was one of the first things I thought of, "I'll never get to read her book." Which, then, has applications for all of us. Not just writers, all people who are doing things. Who have projects of whatever sort. Some of which sit around and sit around and are left abandoned for months or, even, years on end with the thought, "I'll get to it. Sometime." But "sometime" doesn't always come.

So... I am reminded to look at the things I want to do and evaluate them on the basis of what it's okay with me to leave unfinished. Like, I would like to spend time painting, but it won't really bother me if I leave TIME and there are big stack of unpainted miniatures in my garage. It's not like I'm the only one that could paint them. But no one can write the stories that are in my head. Even with notes about them, no one can write them the way I will, so that's the thing I need to get busy with, working on the things that only I can do so that they're not left unfinished should I have to leave.

And that's what I'm going to go do...


  1. You never want to lose someone, but when it happens, it does have a profound effect on us on what we're doing, what we're not doing, and what we should get on a move on with. I am very sorry to hear about Tina. Sounds like she had some health issues she struggled with, and I don't wish that on anyone.

    Good luck with your quest! I hope you get your book(s) finished and any other list items. I should focus to do the same.

    You also quoted Doctor Who, which is great. Maybe Tina was a DW fan.

  2. We're not promised tomorrow and waiting for someday to come often means it never does.
    Like the saying goes, don't want to die with the song still in me.

  3. I just found out about Tina today. Such a loss for all of us who "knew" her.

    You're right, Andrew. We have a limited amount of time on this Earth and when we depart isn't always up to us. This serves as a good reminder to not only finish what we start but to cherish those around us.


  4. My hubby postulates that time is the great 4th dimension. I really like that perspective.

    I know what you mean about trying to finish all these projects in what limited time we have. I suppose that's why I've always been a workaholic, but we have to take time to really appreciate life too. I'm appreciating today. =)

  5. I always thought I'd have time to learn Ballroom Dancing. Then I got hit by a bus. I regret that I kept putting it off.

  6. Jean: I don't actually remember if she watched DW or not. It's been so long since I've seen it, it's almost like I don't even watch it.

    Alex: Oh, no, that would be horrible. Is there an operation to get those things removed?

    Elsie: I think mostly it's not up to us. Rarely, even.

    Crystal: Um... That time as the 4th dimension thing... That's actually a Thing.

    Anne: Getting hit by a bus can take a lot out of you.
    There are things that I have missed, but I'm okay with most of them, at this point.

  7. This much I know: our time, compared to the grand sweep of the universe, is but a flash. I don't just mean my own time. I mean the time of our species, our world. But for me personally, my time is all I have. I am responsible for it. It's too late for me to live without regret. I can only make the most of what is left to me.

  8. Even the universe will return to nothing eventually...but that doesn't help us who are here right now.

  9. I had no idea Tina had died until I saw this post. I check in on her blog now and then but hadn't in a while. That was really shocking; she'd mentioned her health but I didn't realize it was that bad.

    I know what you mean about all the things yet to write and all the projects. But here's what I'll tell you: If you go on to the next world or wherever without finishing the House series, I will get the Ghostbusters back together and cross the streams to bring you back until you finish it.

  10. Time is stalking us all. I'm still reeling over Tina's passing.

  11. TAS: Yeah, I have nothing even to add to that.

    Jeanne: No, not really.

    Briane: So what you're saying is that if I don't finish the series, I can live forever. Hmm...

    Susan: I know what you mean.

  12. As I age my views on what's important change. What used to be vital, I now see as just fluff. Getting my manuscript polished and published will be nice, if it happens before my time has run out. What's important now, though, is enjoying the small things everyday. Really breathe in the joy of being with my friends or walking my dog along a forest path. Those precious moments when time seems to stand still.

  13. I was sending something to my wife via email last night and when I typed in her name, gmail tried to auto-fill the rest. It was Tina's email it brought up.

    I must have stared at it for 30 seconds. Thinking about mortality, time, the joys of life. It was a sad and surreal moment.

    And yes, I have half a dozen unfinished projects myself. Some of them are all but finished. I used to freak out about what would happen to them if I died, but the. I remembered I'm not writing the Wheel of Time, the only one that would care would be me, and I probably won't care at that point.

    It gives me a bit of Zen about things when I think if it like that.

  14. I totally agree with you on this. I keep trying to push for completion of my own projects, but life provides much competition for my time. The shelves get dusty, the dishes have to be washed, and dinner needs to be prepared and that takes my time too. Then there's the travel required to visit family, the time for personal and property maintenance, shopping (mostly groceries for me), and all the other chores that are part of life.

    For the mind that remains active there's never enough time so I know I'll never get to finish everything I want to do. I'm working on it, but I keep trying to "get things in order" just in case I make my departure. I don't want to leave behind a big mess for others to sort out. I'm trying to simplify and prepare while trying to work on my dreams.

    There are undoubtedly many great books no one ever read because they never got published and manuscripts just got tossed or forgotten. Lack of instruction to surviving family or friends can mean work will vanish. But we have no guarantees.

    We should prepare for the inevitable, hope for the best, but not worry about it all so much that we don't enjoy what life we do have. Maybe it doesn't matter anyway. I'd like to think that it matters, but maybe it doesn't.

    Probably better not to think about the finite nature of our lives and just do stuff. Easier said than done I'd say.

    A Faraway View

  15. I didn't know Tina Downy..I'd never heard of her until I started seeing posts about her death. Very sad. She obviously touched a lot of people with her work and I'm sorry to hear that she's gone.
    I think about time a lot...about how everything is temporary, even us. This whole planet will one day, not be here...I think people will be long extinct by the time the planet is swallowed up by the sun...that's what I heard, that the sun is going to get really large, (super nova? red giant?...I forget what they called it)and the Earth will be like Venus...way too hot for anything to live on...of course that is not scheduled to happen for a few billion geological time humans have only been here for a couple minutes...still, sometimes our lives seem to drag eh? Or...not our lives I guess, but certain days drag, and we never know when our last day will come. One day, we'll wake up, shower and get dressed, and it will be the last time we do...I just hope I don't die during a day that's just dragging along...I'd rather die in the middle of one of those projects that we all seem to have!
    I do feel a sense of urgency to get these projects done before I die, but I have to admit, I do count on tomorrow coming for me...I have to count on that, cause there's way too much to do in one day! We all count on tomorrow, because it's always come for us, the living....I mean, up to now at least. We can't wrap our heads around the idea of tomorrow not showing up for us, because this, life, is all we've ever known.
    Gotta go, sorry for rambling! Interesting post Andrew!

  16. Feather: I don't think I have moments when time seems to stand still, only moments when I wish it would.

    Rusty: The all but finished ones wouldn't bother me so much, because someone else could fix it up. It's the ones that are just beginning or are still notes that worry me.

    Lee: Just do stuff. That could be a motto.

    I agree to some extent, but, maybe, it's better to view the deadline, especially for those people who work better under a deadline (no pun intended). I'm not one of those people, necessarily, but I know plenty who are.

    Eva: Hey, ramble all you want.

    Tomorrow is an interesting thing. And, while I don't really believe in that whole "live each day like it's your last" thing, I am more and more being careful of my tomorrows. I think it's more about taking advantage of today while it's here.

  17. I think Tina's passing has affected us all with the things we have left undone.

  18. I didn't know Tina or know of her, but I'm sorry for the loss of a fellow writer. This whole post is a sobering reminder of the importance of focusing on what matters to us.

  19. Elizabeth: It is pretty sobering. Kind of like how it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye.