Monday, September 30, 2013

Time & Meaning

I recently heard an interview on NPR of a brain surgeon who treats young children who have brain cancer. He is frequently in the position of having to inform parents that their children are going to die. He described the most touching parenting scene he has ever seen. One day, after telling a mother and father that their child was about to die, he went up to the child's hospital room to see how the parents were coping. What he saw was a child in bed waiting expectantly for her parents to draw back the curtain to reveal their faces and exclaim, "See! This is what it will be like when you die. You will be on the other side of the curtain but we'll still be here! Just like this!"

And the point of the story was that a life, no matter how long or how short, is still a complete life. The point at which it ends doesn't determine its fullness. It is still something beautiful.

I think we become confused when we value things in relationship to time. I work in a profession where we charge by the hour, and I will tell you that my fleeting moments of insight into the cases I'm constructing are very short-lived and yet they make the case. They are like a spark thrown from the flint of my efforts that set the whole thing ablaze. To charge hourly for my labors ignores the only piece that matters- the piece that exists apart from time.

We are forever trying to harness the value of human experience to time, and we are forever failing. Whatever time is, it bears no direct relationship to meaning. Things that are meaningful exist outside of time, make time irrelevant.

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