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1500: Reflections on Time

By Tim Butler | Posted at 4:55 PM

This is post 1,500 here on asisaid. In another month, asisaid will turn eight years old, indicating I have spent 30.4% of my life blogging. Year wise, that is — I have not spent thirty percent of my life entering blog entires! While I may not be the most prolific blogger, somehow 1,500 posts and eight years feels like it indicates I am one in the blogosphere for the long haul.

This seems like a good segue into a subject I have been thinking about: the progression of time and the subjective “feel” of time's wing chariot flapping forward. It must be something to do with the experiencing of longer and longer periods of time that slowly makes the distance between one time and another seem shorter. I find it hard to believe, for example, that 2004 was six years ago already.

I was thinking back to 2004 a few weeks ago when how long ago it really was jarred me for a moment. I tried to imagine myself in 2004 thinking six years back, back to 1998. Ninety Eight, or any of the 90's for that matter, seemed exponentially farther back if I thought about something related to them in 2004 than 2004 seems now. It is almost as if some mysterious threshold occurred that year that made every year after it seem more similar to me than those in the past ever seemed.

It is not that the last six years have been monotonous to me, there have been some significant peaks and valleys in the last 72 months. In that time, I switched majors from MIS to English Literature (cementing myself as a literature guy), graduated college, started and progressed three quarters of the way through seminary, made many friends, loss touch with others, mourned the loss of family members, been forced out of a church, joined a wonderful new church, gotten published in a number of venues, switch computing architectures twice and operating system families once and a whole host of other things, good, bad and ugly. In many ways, they have been the years I have most clearly sensed God's leading and also the years I have most questioned if I am on the right track for fear of having missed a turn.

Conventional wisdom says that time moves faster as one grows older. But, why is that? I wonder if it has something to do with changes in the way one makes progress as one ages. In 1998 I likely would not have thought or been able to do everything I did in 2004. On the other hand, while I have the benefit of more years under my belt now than I did in 2004, very few things I am doing today seem like things I could not have done in 2004. Unlike the difference between 1998 and 2004, it seems to me that most of what I would approach differently if I had 2004 to do over again are the sorts of things one would do differently simply because one has seen the completion of events, not so much that I have an entirely different perspective.

If anything, the things I am doing now are things that I thought a lot about doing back in 2004 when I made the big switch and threw out the “safety” plan of MIS as a permanent career if the whole seminary thing did not happen.

I digress. As I think about it and try to reconstruct my mind as it existed in 2004 and 1998, I think my theory makes sense. It makes sense that the difference between 14 and 20 is greater than 20 and 26. If this theory is right, I wonder: in another two years, for example, will looking back eight years seem as brief as looking back six does now? That is, will the period of time that does not seem all that long ago have the same beginning point, now enveloping eight years rather than six?

That would, perhaps, explain the sensation that time not only seems to go faster as one grows older, but that it does so in an accelerated fashion.

The way we as human beings recognize the progression of time fascinates me. I do not have any grand conclusions on the subject — not yet anyway. Maybe when asisaid turns sixty eight I can offer something concrete.

End of the Year, Beginning of the New Decade

By Tim Butler | Posted at 10:00 PM

Well, this is it. The last post on asisaid in the first decade in which it operated. Next decade, I'm going to start off by running through some semi-autobiographical posts clearing up the last year. I have been quiet I know. My quietness has been in large part because I have been biding my time holding back on some topics I felt it was not yet appropriate to post on. But, the time has come for what I hope to be not only a cathartic, but also constructive journey.

Stay tuned.

Happy New Year's Eve. Enjoy the rest of the 2000s and see you on the other side of 2009.

First Snow

By Tim Butler | Posted at 1:31 AM

The first real snow of the season is now occurring. It's beautiful.

A Joyous Occasion

By Tim Butler | Posted at 1:14 AM

I'll go into the details sometime soon, but I just had to post a post noting that a joyous milestone has been passed today that I really think is related to where God has been leading me.

Tonight, I am thankful.

Late Night Haiku XXX

By Tim Butler | Posted at 12:18 AM

LXXXIV. What somber tones emit
The crickets tonight. Mourning.
Summer is dying.

LXXXV. Summer's end nears,
As the night rolls into day.
People go to, fro.

LXXXVI. People do not heed
Quiet tragedy moving forward…
'Til it comes to them.

The Only One

By Tim Butler | Posted at 1:15 AM
So afraid to open your eyes, hypnotized.
You know you're not the only one
Never understood this life.
And you're right, I don't deserve
But you know I'm not the only one.

We're all grieving,
Lost and bleeding.

All our lives,
We've been waiting
For someone to call our leader.
All your lies,
I'm not believing.
Heaven shine a light down on me.

Don't look down,
Don't look into the eyes of the world beneath you.
Don't look down, you'll fall down,
You'll become their sacrifice.

Right or wrong.
Can't hold onto the fear that I'm lost without you.
If I can't feel, I'm not mine,
I'm not real.

—A. Lee

There's a lot in this song — it has an almost apocalyptic edge, I think, along the lines of “Whisper,” but it also has a more direct message for “When they all come crashing down, midflight.” To what extent do problems arise when one thinks he or she is “the only one?” To what extent would the problems be solved when realizing others are just as grieved?

Journeying On

By Tim Butler | Posted at 11:38 PM

It's been a rough couple of weeks. It's a long story I'll save for another time, but I wanted to post something rather than completely disappear from my blog.

The basic result of the last few weeks occurrences is that I have had to rethink some things I have been doing. Sometimes it is time to move on. I don't like moving on from this or that thing that I have been doing for years, but sometimes it is the right thing to do. I had to make the decision to move on from a project I have been involved in for years this week.

I'm looking forward to focusing on new things… some of which I may be able to detail here soon.

Love at First Sight

By Tim Butler | Posted at 12:59 AM

My good friend and misguided political pundit Jason used a song from Brandy in his Facebook status yesterday. It was a quip about the impossibility of falling in love overnight. I got a little carried away as part of my response, so I thought I'd use it as a blog post for your concern or amusement.

Objection 1. It seems that love at first sight, or at least the close proximation thereof, is not possible. For love is too deep a thing to occur so quickly.

Objection 2. It should be noted that if the thing were not impossible, past occurrences would at least suggest it unwise.

On the contrary, the thing seems quite possible and is retold throughout literature, for example, Dante's love of Beatrice and the many cases of love (often crossed with mistaken identity) in the works of Shakespeare. These cases resonate with humanity, and only that which is “the mirror up to nature,” as Hamlet says, resonate with the soul.

I answer that the objections confuse the thing's accidents with its substance. That love is complex and deep need not be tied to a particular time frame always, even if it is frequently. Neither should its most close resemblance to its ideal form be taken to imply that it cannot occur less ideally in its material realization.

And, we may add that what wisdom is with concern to this matter is difficult to discern. If it were Romeo's fate to fall in love with Juliet, was it unwise merely because it led to their mutual demise? Or was it ultimately wise since it was in accord with fate? Perhaps Romeo would have killed himself later out of depression when Juliet was betrothed to another had he not fallen in love overnight but rather more slowly. Would there have been a net gain in happiness then? Likely not, for maybe Juliet would have secretly remained an admirer of Romeo and hence would kill herself too. In any case, unrequited love would have unnecessarily been involved then, as both Romeo and Juliet would have mistaken the views of the other, heaping further sadness upon their souls before their untimely deaths. But having already married someone else, Juliet would now lead to two broken hearts rather than one.

Moreover, though the ideal form may take time to develop, the ideal form is not actually achieved even over long periods of time for, as it is written, a curse exists upon love (Gen. 3.16). Therefore, if one only considers romantic love by its ideal form, then it does not exist in the present human condition. But even the objector does not accept this premise, which is indeed flawed.

Reply to Objection 1. As we have seen, this is based upon a confusion of form with its material realization.

Reply to Objection 2. Likewise it has been shown that the wisdom of the occurence is none too easily judged. To assume the accident of unwise decision is the essence of love at first sight is a matter of confusion. It may be proverbially true, but should be taken as something to which possible exceptions can occur.

LIVE from Shelbyville

By Tim Butler | Posted at 11:34 PM

Well, I do not usually blog when out of town, but for grins here I am. I am in rural Indiana, south of Indianapolis for my grandpa's 89th birthday. It was a tough schedule given what I need to accomplish this week while on “break,” but it was nice to share the day with him (sadly, my last living grandparent).

Tomorrow I head home and back to the grind. Hope all are doing well.

(This message courtesy of the wonders of AT&T 2.5G EDGE service on my iPhone in the middle of farmland… Ironically with a better signal than I get at my house since AT&T messed up my coverage.)

Requiem to My Grandpa

By Tim Butler | Posted at 6:47 PM

The Death of Ivan Ilych is especially touching for those who have witnessed the prolonged suffering and death of a family member. Ilych increasingly becomes aware of his own mortality and how it is going to rob him of his “perfect” life.

It reminds me a lot of my grandfather. My grandfather was always a fixer of things and just a great person to be around. Few people that knew him did not love to be around him, and often people who had just met him would willingly spend long periods of time talking to him. He savored talking to people and would equally enjoy talking and spending time with both family and strangers who would lend an ear and time. He had a fascination with a great many things and lived what one could consider a really picturesque life, heading toward his eighties as a happy person enjoying his time in retirement.

It was a fire just about four years prior to his death that destroyed his picturesque existence. He became one that often had angry outbursts – like Ivan Ilych – and things seemed to fall apart around him. While my grandmother did not reciprocate with anger, the fire brought to the surface the beginnings of dementia that had not been apparent previously – thus, like Ilych, my grandfather was not only suffering because of his own problems, but also because of my grandmother’s problems.

The thing we did not know at the time was that the anger was actually being brought out as a side effect of the rare cancer that was developing inside of him. Like Ilych, symptoms – such as weakness and tiredness — started to become more apparent, and different doctors tried different solutions with different diagnoses for a good deal of time, until the real villain became apparent. Despite being told he had no hope, my grandfather refused to listen and continue to fight – just hoping to beat the unbeatable enemy within.

The worst symptoms came out about a year before his death and as they slowly ripped away parts of him, leaving less and less of the person we knew and loved and more of the angry person caused by the side effects of the disease to the brain, it reached the point where we – like Ilych’s family – desired less and less to be around my grandfather lest there be another violent outburst. It was a most cruel end to a most wonderful person.

In one of his more lucid moments, however, my grandfather related something very hopeful to my mother. He said his favorite season was always the fall, because fall represented a beginning. Consider this for a moment. After the spring, summer and bright early autumn colors of life, we reach what – at first – appears to be the beginning of the end. Yet it is only through the ending of life as we know it that we can really begin. Without the ending that is autumn, there can be no springtime of resurrection. As my grandfather himself worked through the fact that he was in the fall of his life, he eventually gained a new hope and peace recognizing he was heading forward to the springtime.

It is not being dead that needs to be feared, but the process of dying. Hope springs again, for we know the promise of the Father through the work of his son. Once we can get beyond the shedding of our leaves in a final burst of color, we make way for the innocence and wonder of spring.

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