Tuesday, January 29, 2013

DAY 2B) The Lost Day


So many more days have been lost than just one. In the long memory of any of us who grow older (and we all do) which of us can remember each and every day? Many of us can hardly recall an incident from a given year. I know I was once seven years old, but what exactly happened, back then in 1959? Let alone its weekday of January the 29th.

It is 7:10 a.m. by my watch, Canada home time, January 29th, 2013 as I type. From the seatback map ahead I see we've just overflown Honolulu. Sydney time is now 2:10 a.m., Wednesday 30th. What happened to Tuesday? We've been only 7 hours on the air and we've come only half way since Monday 23:45 (11:45 p.m.) departure. Time lines obfuscate. The expected arrival is in Sydney at 9:36 a.m., Wednesday. We've travelled 2,918 miles. Only 3,905 miles to go! Add seven more hours. So somewhere in these 15 hours in the air 'my' 29th of January is being absorbed at a speed of around 580 miles per hour and nearly 4,000 feet up. Yet while it is now the 30th in Sydney I do feel this plane beneath and around me, and the 29th is a momentum, not a lost day at all. Even in sleep the jog of it in the air is a consciousness. Yet the thing is, I shall have forgotten these exacting details by the time I close up this page. And soon I shall have forgotten George, now sat beside me, the hell-i-pilot too. The actual factual facts, for me, will smudge into a haze of imperfect sensations, yet easily enough conjured should occasion arise to describe a long flight. It's those friends of mine who can recall the time and the precise details of their days that intrigue me. My brain lets go of the past.

Thing is, the sensations of being on the beach with my father and two brothers perhaps in 1959 in what back then was Nyasaland is pleasant enough. It'd been my very first flight in an aeroplane (since 'flight' has so many meanings). Yet I know I wanted even then to see the sea. The lake was insufficient, big as it was. But even this memory is only provoked by the fading photograph I still have of the four of us sat up on the sand. And I do not know the exact year. And the longing for the sea, I think, is true, but it may be fanciful conjecture. The creative mind loves to conjure details, but certainly to let go of the need for accuracy. Thing is, some would accuse it (me) of letting go of the truth.

Lost days are like that. We take a calendar and mark the birthdays of others, and perhaps record significant events. On some calendars that I've kept I'm surprised to see such an entry as "dinner with Ian and Paula Pursch". It takes me awhile to recall them; it was back in 1976, or mayhap '75? But there are other names, or rather, the people still behind those names, that I entirely forget. Do they still live? Would they be insulted?

Does a day feel insulted if we do not give it accord? This gift of time, so precious that we award gold to the one who beats another by split seconds to the podium; so precious that we see the bus take off even though the would-be passengers are running to catch it; so precious that the plane has precise details as to when to land in an airport crowded with traffic; so precious as to know that even the ones you most love will have days if not years that are unaccounted for, despite the treasure of being in the company of each other. Lost. Yet we will make every effort and go to great expense to coincide at a precise time, to meet, to share. I shall swim an ocean just to see you, goes the song.

And even then, how much of such a day or moment will be lost? Time is the gift of now.

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