Time and Memory
Around the holidays, I find myself thinking about former holidays. The following is a journal entry I wrote on Christmas Eve 2019.
I woke up this morning thinking about calendars. Not just any calendars, but the Julian calendar’s system.
It’s an interesting system no doubt. However, it was replaced by the Gregorian calendar. The Gregorian calendar was accepted by all countries — the last of which was Greece in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. According to Wikipedia on the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, “[t]he last country of Eastern Orthodox Europe to adopt the Gregorian calendar for civil purposes was Greece, at the time under military administration following the 11 September 1922 Revolution, with Wednesday 15 February 1923 being followed by Thursday 1 March 1923.” Evidently Turkey was the last country to adopt the Gregorian system.
“Lunario Novo, Secondo la Nuova Riforma della Correttione del l’Anno Riformato da N.S. Gregorio XIII”
It’s interesting considering that my great grandmother — Eleni of whom I have written about before — was born in Constantinople in the early 1900s — around 1900 — to the Julian calendar. But she passed away after I met her in 1999 in Austin, Texas in the Gregorian calendar.
I suppose, my preoccupation in time has been an ephemeral one all my life. I have always wondered what it was like in the past. I enjoyed asking neighbors what their high school days were like in the 1950s, the 1980s, etc. Thinking about how those times have passed and won’t necessarily happen again sort of gives me pause. I’m not speaking in Einstein’s relativity sort of way, but in the reality that these events from my perception won’t happen again.
What is time? The way we define time is not the way time actually works according to Einstein and those who built off of his work. The brilliant tennis shoe wearing, violin playing, Princeton vernacularing, genius of them all. Destiny is fate I suppose. Or is fate a type of destiny? Word plays on fate and destiny have also lingered long in my mind.
“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
According, again, to Wikipedia, “Special relativity indicates that, for an observer in an inertial frame of reference, a clock that is moving relative to him will be measured to tick slower than a clock that is at rest in his frame of reference. This case is sometimes called special relativistic time dilation.” But what is this? I suppose it means, that if a twin brother of mine set off at birth from the earth travelling the speed of light for half of our lifetimes and then returned on the other half, he would be younger than I am. I have also wondered if I may be the young one and he would be the old one. Luckily, I know I was a single birthed child given the newspaper article that was published by the Palm Beach Post a few days after my birth in 1992.
If you type in this string of words on Google, “palm beach post charles edward andrew lincoln iv hurricane andrew,” you’ll find this article: https://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/sfl-1992-0825pregnant-story.html
This is our reference at the end of the article: “But Elena Lincoln of Palm Beach wasn`t biting. She gave birth to Charles Edward Lincoln IV.
“We gave some thought to breaking the family line and naming our boy Charles Andrew Lincoln IV,“ she said. “But we didn`t want to honor a big wind.“”
Fate, destiny, the cosmos, time dilation?
When thinking about the connection of time, fate, destiny, the cosmos, and time, I sometimes refer to Carl Sagan’s quote from his cheerful and serious documentary Cosmos, “[t]he cosmos is full beyond measure of elegant truths; of exquisite interrelationships; of the awesome machinery of nature.” Then, I think of one of my other favourtie quotes that has come up a number of times in my life at poignant moments: “I believe our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky.” This last quote is from page 4 of his book Cosmos (1980) — at least according to Wikipedia.
Nothing seems permanent, Wikipedia articles change and are edited over time; Britannica 11th edition can disintegrate and fall apart as old books are wont to do; people grow up, we’re no longer kids; and time seems to be moving forward — our frames of reference are no longer the same. I’m no longer a teenager and pre-teen who can say that 1966 Mustang is 40 years old… It’s now over 50 years old… getting closer to 60 years old every day… My dad told me once in 2007/8 while I was working on a science fair project that he sometimes mistakes it for the former month when writing the date or the former decade or even still thinks it’s the 1980s. It’s like when you’re in sixth grade and you write September 1 on your notes even though its’ really October 1. The last month lingers and one needs a wake up call; or, as Green Day put it,
“Summer has come and passed
The innocent can never last
Wake me up when September ends”
I think about some of the photos that float around on social media. I have a photo of me laying on my two best friends’ laps for my friend Dylan’s 18th birthday. I see that photo from time to time. Even for 2010 standards, it’s a bit grainy, but it was a last gasp our youth in some sense. This is not to say we have ceased to retain youthful aspirations — indeed, we have grown a Dungeons & Dragons liking in our late 20s — but that was one of the happiest days where I reunited with friends I spent most of my childhood and pre-teens hanging out with. Then, we were there on his 18th birthday in the same neighborhood where we grew up. 12thgrade is a transitory time… and like George Lucas’s movie American Graffiti (which I have not finished as of yet) seems to tap into the emotion of the moment quite well.
Given social media, we seem to be more in touch, but I haven’t seen the other friend in that photo — Philip — probably for the longest time in my life — since the Friday after Thanksgiving 2017… Now it’s Christmas Eve 2019
Another memory about memories and photos is being at an innovation lab with my friends Ryan and Bryce from undergrad looking at old photos. Bryce asked, “where do those memories go?” Ryan responded, “I don’t know.” I don’t know either frankly. But they remain there. It seems they have a purpose. Certainly memory has a purpose in making us progress forward. It seems to give us a certain sense of wisdom.
Photos are a representation of something in time — something ephemeral, but at the same time beautiful that we want to keep a hold of. Out of most people that I know, I may take the most photos. I love capturing the moment. Who knows if I or anyone else will ever look back at it. And even if we did, I may have to say they had to have been there to understand. Oh well.
But, the photos are powerful if they evoke memory. I usually like taking photos of the sky. But for others, the sky photos may not evoke memory and emotion. The group photos, the event photos, the funny moment photos, the pose photos… those all are symptomatic of something greater that binds us together. Another time, caught in a brief snap shot of a miniscule moment in time. Be they grainy or be they crisp clear, it’s something special.
So, what does this all have to do with time and memory? It may be a want to hold onto the past. But I think if we actually stopped time and held onto the past, we wouldn’t be happy. Somehow, I think the desire can cause happiness or sadness, but it’s the journey not the end product that we want. Too many times do we receive the end product and end up unhappy. But the journey, which is to say, as Tennyson said, Odysseus did, “[t]o strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
Time is a journey, whether we’re the other twin who blasted off at the speed of light from Hurricane Andrew wrought Florida in August 1992 or the one who stayed back to take photos of the sky and with his friends on Earth, time wraps around us and makes us whole. We pick up some wisdom, forget some logic, make new experiences, and hopefully, try to find something worth our time.
© Charles Edward Andrew Lincoln IV