Some people think of time as a straight line. Unbroken. Continuous. A river of events and experiences flowing endlessly through time filled with individuals, relationships, choice, and chance. It’s beginning before written and oral tradition. Its end, unknowable.
Envisioning time as a river makes sense to me. A metaphor that is rich in images of shallows and rapids, quiet coves, and roiling white water. The choice to contend against the current or be carried away by it.
What makes it interesting is not knowing what’s beyond each turn. Where the journey will take us. How or where it will ultimately end. A journey made more fascinating by the cast of characters floating in and out of our lives as they pursue their own destiny. How a word or gesture may encourage you to dare the rapids or convince you to pull closer to the shore.
But that is where the image of time as an unbroken line ends for me. Where the many unscripted characters who find their way in and out of our lives prompt us to stop and pause along the way. With each providing uncharted tributaries for us to explore.
I’m not sure about anyone else, but my life has been filled with an endless parade of fascinating characters and the distractions they provided. The many unexpected twists and turns. Countless opportunities to regroup, retreat, and reengage. Along with the many opportunities to explore those uncharted tributaries along the way.
It is in these unforeseen, unanticipated breaks that true growth is manifested. Interruptions in the otherwise unbroken line where we are forged into who we are. Tempered into who we are likely to become…
We should accept these breaks in the otherwise unbroken line of existence for what they are. Opportunities. Not interruptions. And realize they feel the same. They are the same. Fragments. Bits and pieces of experience that grow out of the journey they are a part of.
After all, whether our timeline is segmented or appears continuous, whether we are still, or constantly in motion… When taken in the context of a life well-lived, we are all travelers in and through time.