What is it with time? Must it continue inexorably, ravaging as it goes? Slicer commented in his first post that there never seemed to be enough of it. After that he observed that it’s part of the fabric of the universe (and therefore part of us). Its effects can be good and bad: things mature (crops, humans, wine) and then deteriorate. Most of us agree we’ve got to make the best use of it.
Slicer is sure he must have lost some along the way – one minute he was a skinny kid with brown hair who could sprint a hundred metres in 11.2 seconds*; the next he had kids of his own, his hair had got a definite silvering at the sides and, while he can still produce a respectable sprint, he wouldn’t want to find out just how much those 11.2 seconds have slipped as a result of skinny no longer being entirely accurate. Still, he gets to do things now – in work and play – that he didn’t then. He also sees things as less black and white than he used to, and he hopes he’s a bit less arrogant than he used to be. As Dylan put it:
“I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” Dylan also said: “Time is an ocean” but Slicer has been reminded that the tide is coming in pretty fast.
George Bernard Shaw said: “Youth is a wonderful thing. What a crime to waste it on children.”
Napoleon Bonaparte put it this way (Maxims, 1815): “There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men: time.”
Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide...) reckoned: “Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.”
Maybe we should see time as a motivator. The great composer Leonard Bernstein considered: "To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan, and not quite enough time."
We can’t stop the march of time, so we often wish each other well for the future. One of the most memorable sets of good wishes given to Slicer was on the day of his wedding during a speech by his best man. After public comment about Slicer’s anatomy and critique of Slicer’s dress sense, his best man closed his speech by reciting a section from Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young.”
A young Roger Daltrey sang, purportedly on behalf of a generation, “Hope I die before I get old.” Either he’s changed his hope, or he’s more flexible with his definition of what “old” is than he anticipated he would be when he... er... wasn’t.
As William Wallace said some time around 1300 AD (according to the movie “Braveheart” at least): “Every man dies. Not every man lives.”
So Wallace beat Abraham Lincoln to Lincoln’s famous (and overused) quotation by 500 years. I don’t imagine Braveheart would have had much in common with Andy Warhol, but they would likely have agreed on Warhol’s maxim: "They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself."
There is something within us that wants to resist the ageing process, and many try to disguise the signs, if not the reality. This is well treated in the black comedy Death Becomes Her, where Goldie Hawn & Meryl Streep bravely play women who are losing their looks through age, and who resort to various methods to fight it including plastic surgery and drinking a secret potion.
There is a legend in Ireland that a long lost bottle of triple distilled Arran whiskey holds the Elixir of life...However, outside movie-land and folklore, the idea of an elixir of life, or a modern version which involves tinkering with molecular biology, still remains attractive and is an area of active research.
Richard Dawkins has mulled over why religious faith has persisted for so long, assuming it’s not rooted in reality. An obvious explanation is the offer in many faiths of “the life everlasting,” as the Apostles’ Creed puts it. Of course this reasoning of the appeal of faith neither confirms nor refutes the reality of "the life everlasting." The quest for immortality is one of the oldest subjects of literature, being a central theme of The Epic of Gilgamesh, which is thought to be at least as old as the 22nd Century BC. A few species have been considered to have “biological immortality” (eg the Hydra, forming a neat link with Slicer’s last posting).
Dylan’s “Forever Young” is a father’s wish for his young son, and appeared on his 1974 album Planet Waves. Countless other artists have covered the song, and many parents identify with the theme. Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders clearly did, and released a great “Pretenderized” version.
found at bomb-mp3 search engine
Those with savvy for what’s current, and what might influence the “youf of today,” recently saw fit to release a remix of the song to promote a fizzy drink:
But the song contains so much more than a desire to halt the ageing process. It wishes for insight, wisdom and character, suggesting that these are associated with quality of life:
“May you grow up to be righteous, may you grow up to be true”
“May you always know the truth and see the light surrounding you”
“May you always be courageous, stand upright and be strong”
It highlights that quality of life and character are defined by acts of grace (and being gracious in receiving them too):
“May you always do for others, and let others do for you” (Dylan returned to this notion 5 years later in another song – clearly he felt there was more to add).
He wishes fulfillment in life:
“May you build a ladder to the stars, and climb on every rung”
“May your hands always be busy
(and Slicer particularly identifies with the next line)
May your feet always be swift”
He suggests that a strong footing (and perhaps some flexibility) is necessary to avoid being swept away by new circumstances:
“May you have a strong foundation when the winds of changes shift.”
And finally he wishes joy in all things, and a personal contribution to the world which will not fade away:
“May your heart always be joyful, may your song always be sung”
Slicer really can’t think of a better way to wish the best for the future to anyone.
*This was when Jim Hines held the world record for 100m at 9.9 seconds. Many things are relative, but that 1.3 second difference is enormous, and spanned the gap then between respectable schoolboy athletics and Olympic excellence.