“Knowledge is authentic and complete only when it is a way of life, when beyond the mastery of a science there is scrupulous attention to what a good life means…”
Professor Souleymane Bachir Diagne
What time is it?
Why we remember, what we remember and when we remember at any point in time is a mystery. Yet scattered memories can form unrelenting thoughts in our minds every day. They also reveal mysterious connections in our nightly slumber where we can fly like a bird, fall without landing, or chat with someone we forgot. A dream could unfold a realistically bizarre scenario like a conversation about a leaking ceiling in a bar that turns into a plane.
Past, present, and future have always been marked by social events and seasons like winter, summer, spring, and fall or rainy and dry. Technology removed the limitations of these markers. With electricity, we work when the sun goes down but our body clocks still alarm to wake at day. We harvest tomatoes all year round with the help of greenhouses but they are not nearly as delicious as when eaten in season.
Before frequent flier air travel and the internet, our thoughts were more or less limited to our local communities and the occasional encounter; visit or visitor. Yet they were still influenced by human conditions like anger, sorrow, envy, frustration and shame that weigh on us; or courage, joy, hope, compassion, and love that lift us. Still, even then no-one could stop us from traveling in our dreams to see and to experience the new and the impossible that sometimes serendipitously reached into our waking lives or let us glimpse what was to come.
Who knows… maybe what we dreamed then reflected what we do now.
Written text took hold of our imaginations. Technology carried us beyond our communities. With radio we listened; With TV we watched; With computers, we now listen, watch, read, write, capture and communicate with mobile devices, that expect us to relinquish our thoughts and memories to their service; with the hope they serve us in return.
Devices war for our eyes, constantly trying to bring our attention to someone else’s moment by leading us away from moments of our own. Time and space are scattered with our bits and bytes, some of which we look for, stumble upon or have left for others to find.
A valuable commodity, time is bought and sold. Yet the purchase never comes with an unlimited guarantee. It can be taken away from our lived experience in a fraction of a second, tomorrow or years from today. It is not only linear but cyclical as African philosophers, remind us. So, we slowly return to incomplete text, like that of the Ethiopian, Zera Yacob, inaccurately relegated to a ‘pre-enlightenment’ age.
In this season, my present of presence is a lazy Sunday; music warming my soul, like the sunlight, letting my spirit soar; while the sound of raindrops on rooftops draw me into a billow of pillows that swallow me whole with comfort. A memory of dancing with family and friends. Laughing; lots of laughing. A reflected smile. The pleasure of biting into a delicious sun-kissed mango. It’s a dream. Yet I am awake. I am alive!
Seasons, memories and dreams collapse so there is just one inexplicable moment of utter peace.
It’s time for a toast.
Here’s to those moments.