It's university I think of when I think of "back to school". Buying those first philosophy books at Hodges Figgis; Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, Locke and Hume. Joining societies during Fresher's week and drinking away nights in the Buttery. I remember the feeling of walking through Front Arch those September mornings and the evenings spent on the top floor of the Berkeley Library. And, inevitably, memories of falling in love.
I try not to fall prey to nostalgia or regret. Those years were what they were. There was wonder and heartbreak, discovery and angst. There's still a lot of that, but the flavour is more full-bodied now. And the years stretch and meander without the structure of Michaelmas, Hilary and Trinity. These days, we look to the weather for signs of change, we see the sun fall in the sky, the angle of light more oblique. No bells are rung to call each day to a close.
And so we set our own terms. Some of us by the seasons and some of us by our work calendar. Some live in the granularity of the day, scheduling work and play, meetings and dinner dates. Whatever the measure of it, we chart our progress through time. Without time, we skulk around the edges in the dark. And this must be important and primal, because when people first got down to anything, charting the passing of time was high on their list.
"Time" was my first lecture at university. Aristotelian, Bergsonian, Newtonian concepts of time. I'm still friends with the professor who taught that class. We write each other letters and exchange articles and postcards of artwork we like. I'll see him when I go home later in the month and for a spell that will be the invisible thread I draw through time: My first philosophy lecture linked to that moment, when we're sitting in a coffee shop or restaurant.
And what he didn't tell us in that lecture was that time folds. And you find yourself overlaying the present with a moment from the past. And your experience of things builds in strange ways and those folds become more intricate. We bob and weave, duck and dive through it. There are moments when we're invisible to ourselves and others when we're in many moments at once. And all the time we're edging forward, but it's slow and fast at once. We're so impatient we don't see how steadily we're hurtling through it, using it all up.
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