NON FICTION: Time Waits For No Man

Man's silhouette looking at the stars

Photo: Greg Rakozy

The universe will end not with a bang, but with a whimper. —Neil deGrasse Tyson

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Time has a weird way of passing us by—the boring and routine tend to stretch it to oblivion, yet it takes only moments for the years to pass. For me, this becomes a problem in goal setting. I write down my plans, I set the deadlines, and then I realise how long it takes to achieve them little things.

But we look at time from a limited perspective. Think about it. Our choices revolve around a microscopic view on time—when the new iPhone is coming out, how many more payments till our car loan’s paid off, how fast the kids are growing up—and yet, the universe has existed for billions of years, and will continue to exist for trillions more, a duration that we can’t even begin to fathom.

Our bleak future

Billions of years from now, our sun will engulf the earth, and trillions of years after that, other stars will die, leaving a dark, blank slate where the sparkles of the universe used to be.

After that, black holes cannibalise each other, slowly disappearing and leaving space even emptier than it already is. Eventually, time will cease to matter.

Now think about that. The clock, which we’re so governed by, will one day be meaningless, and every living being in the entire universe is headed towards the same point in time. In a sense, all life in the entire cosmos, alien or not, are connected by this shared fate, and that’s some pretty freaky shit to think about at two in the morning.

Changing perspectives

Thoughts like these help me keep things in perspective though. Right now on Earth, it’ll take me at least half a year to come up with a shitty first draft for a novel, another half to edit it, then the rest is all up in the air. And that seems like a very long time to wait before I get to see the fruits of my labour.

But then I start thinking of the universe, and I remind myself that no matter what I’m going through in life, that that too, will pass, and it both terrifies and comforts me at the same time.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the meaning of existence—especially mine—not philosophically, but more in a drunk-dude-with-insomnia kinda way, and you know what I came up with? That it all doesn’t matter.

Now before you prescribe me with a diet of yoga and positive thinking, just hear me out a bit.

It doesn’t matter

You see, there’s a certain freedom to knowing that things don’t matter. Maybe that’s the push you need to take that risk, to try your hand at that musical instrument, to speak in public despite your stage fright, to start your own business, to ask that person out on a date.

It doesn’t matter if you’re living in the slums or if you’re changing the world like Elon Musk. We all share the same fate, and knowing that, wouldn’t you hazard some uncertainty in your life, especially seeing how you only have like 50 years to deal with your bad decisions?

We’re all so uniquely different, yet we all think we need to follow a set path of education, career, and family. I find myself following established paths too, because that’s what society says I should do, and I’m pretty good at being a follower.

My expiry date

I’m the perfect candidate for the rat race, because I tend to stay in my lane, and corporate loves it when you do that. I’d laboured my entire life as a working-class guy with minimum wage, and it seemed like something I ought to be doing, but then came my death scare.

It wasn’t anything serious, but for two days, I thought that my lung infection meant certain death. And my first thought wasn’t “Ah, good thing I’ve been a hard worker then” but “Ah shit, there goes all my opportunities to do the things I wish I’d done.”

A few years has passed since that incident, and time really does heal everything—even the fear of death. Still, I do reflect on my mortality sometimes, and I often wonder what I’d do when my time comes. Would I be at least half-prepared? Or would I be filled with regrets?

Taking action

And that’s why, this year, I’ve decided to set a dream in motion. One that I’ve been harbouring for almost a decade. One that was always on my mind when blowing out the candles on my birthday cake. One that life always found a way to delay.

I’m going to write a book.

It’s not about getting published. There’s no fame nor recognition for this either. I just want to finish the damn thing. Besides, only 1 out of 10 people I know reads fiction, and only 1 out of those 10 readers actually enjoy the obscure niches of cyberpunk and space operas.

But why though

So why am I doing this?

Because it somehow seems like something I was meant to do. It’s my purpose, and it’s something I’m willing to wager on to make it happen, as cheesy as that sounds. It was also something I’d wished I’d done when I had my health scare.

At least this way, when Death comes knocking on my door, I could tell myself that I’ve given it a fair try, instead of going through what-ifs during my final moments. And even if I fail, it’ll probably just mean 50 or so years of suffering (without regrets too), which isn’t a bad thing when you take into the account of what time means in the grand scale of the universe.

So if you’re stuck between a couple of tough choices, just know that it won’t matter whichever one you go with. As long as you’re not harming others, I say go for what you believe in and live your life the way you want to.

Because as they say, time waits for no man, but apparently, it won’t wait for the universe either.

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Does thinking about our place in the universe intrigue or scare you? Make sure to share your thoughts below. Whatever you type will all be gone in a trillion years, so don’t be shy!

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