Every time I look at my watch it reminds me how time is melting away. It is not only because I have a watch which prompted my granddaughter to tell her grade-1 classmates “Look, my Savta (grandma in Hebrew) has a Dali watch.” Indeed, it is somewhat reminiscent of Salvador Dali’s watches, and now you know how old it is, since my granddaughter is 24 now. Dali’s melting time piece (also known as Soft Watch at the Moment of First Explosion) was created in 1954, in the Surrealist style. Surrealism rejects logic, reason, and natural order. This is what it felt like during the past year. It truly felt surreal, and time moved in different ways from what we were used to. There used to be a regularity in our activities that had led to a natural order in our life. We got up at a set time, since we had to be at work, we took a set route to work, and then partook of some set activities during the week, and different ones on the weekends. All that changed for most people. It seemed as if time was standing still, but actually it was melting away, no longer having a meaningful purpose.
What exactly is time? We can say a lot about what it is not, or what can be done to it or with it, but it is elusive if not almost impossible to define. Of course, there are many definitions, and Prof. Google provides a whole page of them, though most of them are practically the same. You can check out Webster’s, the Oxford, the Brittanica, and Best 117 Definitions of Time – Your Dictionary. They all relate to what we can do with time, how we can measure time, how to use the word in conjunction with other words to create different meanings. Time may be the chameleon of the English language; its meaning changes based on context. Think of: the time is, time limit, springtime, the (Victorian) times, have you got time, a miserable (good) time, in her time, flying time or time flies, her time had come, math time- four times as much, ahead or behind of time, closing or opening time, do time-jail time, work time, pay time, meter time (ran out, add some more money) and time signature (meter in poetry or music), race against time, all in good time.
If you plan something for a particular time, you decide to do it or cause it to happen at that time. If you time an action, you measure how long it takes. And many things in life are all about timing. At any time, you can tell people about the best times you had “before their time,” or even ahead of your time, and make them wish you did not take your time to waste their time. And now it is high time that I made time and stopped for the time being to dwell on time because there is no time like the present, and if I do not stop you will all cry to the end of time.
I think my brain took its time to melt, although now, as COVID-19 undergoes a third round of mutations, my brain is starting to feel like it’s in a Dali painting. I actually did fairly well during the year-long ordeal. There were so many free concerts, lectures, and study groups to occupy one’s mind. The problem was the body. It felt like I was forever glued to my chair in front of the screen. I was so glad when I could go back to some routine work with my body, swimming at least 4 times a week and practising Qigong. And the best present was the establishment of my website. Only you never know with some presents if they are a blessing or a curse. Most of the time they are a mix of both, like all things in life. As Naomi Shemer says in her song: “For the honey and the sting, for the bitter and the sweet, …” Singing in my choir was one of the things I missed most in this year of separation from friends and family. Lately I was able to go back to my weekly voice lessons, and I have enriched my music repertoire. That is a great boost for my own wellbeing. But singing together in a group is magical. It is the mixing of the voices, the harmony that happens when people get together and express themselves in voices raised or silences timed perfectly to become a powerful conduit of joy and feelings for each other and the audience.
My choir group decided to get together outdoors, in the backyard of one of our members. What joy it was, lots of laughter, singing, not-bad harmony, and of course, food. A potluck of fruit, salads, and too many pastries. We are only 12, and no longer young, but perhaps that is what drives us to be passionate about wanting to join our voices. To show the world that there is always time for raising our voices in sadness and joy for life and love. When thinking of raising our voices for the community, to spread love instead of hatred, I always go back to the YouTube video of Bob Marley’s song One Love, performed in Israel in 2018 by Koolulam in honor of the visit of Indonesia’s religious leader Sheikh Haji Yahya Cholil Staquf. Hundreds of ordinary people sang outdoors in Jerusalem in an unbelievable harmony of voices, spreading joy and love to the world. I wish we all could do that. Not necessarily by singing, but by regarding what we have in common, rather than our differences. Respecting the differences and the cultures from a standpoint of common humanity and community building. And yes, I did not mention another attribute of time, there is a belief that time is healing. It is about time that we all wake up, and use that healing power to come together with respect and love. Only time will tell how successful we are in infecting the world with the respect-and-love variant.
Click the colored words in the text above to listen to and be inspired by the songs.