Alternative Essays: The Laws Of Time


The hands of the clock move without hesitation, driven as much by time’s innate need to keep score as by its primal desire to record the existence of things living and not. Unwittingly, the makers of horological devices assume that time can be trapped within mechanisms, its motion observed from behind a wall of glass and even altered with the turn of a screw or the push of a button. But time is more fluid than solid, and even that notion of fluidity is understandable only in mental terms, not as a tangible phenomenon — something that can be contained or grasped in a physical sense. For time is a spirit, a paranormal being that possesses inanimate bodies — be they clocks, sands in hourglasses or dwarf stars — constraining them to be its vehicles in the tireless duty of creating order and establishing control in an otherwise chaotic universe. Man is by nature made to obey the laws of time, to bend to its will and leap at its commands. And when he so unnaturally disregards its power, punishment is meted out as change — a morbid covering of even the most beautiful things with the onerous, pall-like dust of age or the inimical alteration of a status quo to compensate for every usurpation.

Long before the dawn of history, humanity was inadvertently drawn into conflict with time. That war has persisted through the ages, not abating or worsening, but fueled consistently by the instinctive yearning of mankind to preserve, delay and hasten, as the case may be. From the premature awakening instigated by an alarm clock, to the wrinkle-free skin guaranteed, within unreasonable limits, by anti-aging creams, man uses knowledge and its application to break the laws of time. But, not one to be bested by mere mortals, time the spirit takes back all due pounds of flesh by smoothening the man-ruffled fabric of its continuum. In an illustrative demonstration of that ernormous capacity to counteract man’s meddling, the fellow who is startled into wakefulness by an artificial noisemaker finds himself delayed by a traffic light, and the woman with the unwrinkled skin is struck with a bout of measles to, in a manner of speaking, balance the books.

Based solely upon time’s apparent ability to assert itself and maintain an equilibrium regardless of man’s actions of deduction and addition, the conclusion that its laws cannot be conclusively broken would be arrived at with little or no debate. But those of a differing opinion would argue that time has no laws, in the sense that laws that cannot be broken are not laws. At a cursory glance, the latter school might seem to have won an outright logical victory. However, it becomes clear upon closer examination that its point of view only serves to underscore the frightening power of time to make and unmake, to blur the lines between reality and illusion, to decide what is and what is not; existence and death held apart by a mere hair’s breadth of a second. And justifiable or not, denying the existence of time’s laws as well as its means to enforce them does not in any way diminish that gigantic supernatural force that inhabits the clock. Even if humanity runs out of time, it can never run out of time’s reach.

Why then do we pit outselves against time knowing full well that nothing good can come of our pitiable mortal struggle against an entity that defines life itself? Pride and an overdose of self-admiration have made us forget that even in its hour of blazing glory, the might of man is a puny force cowering in heaven’s leviathan celestial shadow. Humanity is fragile, its frame of existence influenced mightily by the subtle interplay of elements beyond its mental scope. We are paperweights in a universe of super-heavyweights, parlour trick magicians jostling with bastions of ancient wizardry. Considering that battles are lost with every blink of our collective eye, the hope to win this mindless war is not merely laughable, it redefines foolishness with stunning four-dimensional clarity. What lizard compares itself with a dragon? What crow attempts an eagle’s regal flight? The capacity to restrain time is beyond our means, though smaller gods we be, for what cannot be conceived cannot be felt and what is not felt cannot be subdued. Mind the clock.