Sunday, July 18, 2004


Back at the very beginning of time, when nostalgia was still a thing of the future, no one ever talked about the past, since there was none worth speaking of. Another result of having no ago was that tenses and adverbs were radically unfamiliar: no one knew how to use them yet (there wasn't even any "yet" yet), so folks avoided dealing with those parts of speech, initially. "Initially" wasn't a word yet then, either; that took a while-- "a while" is another one.

Also, lack of the "just now" concept tended to put a crimp in conversation, as did the many other time concepts that accumulated, until conversation got kind of warped. "Accumulated," "until": how casually we throw our time wisdom around now.

The very first chronowords spoken were probably something along the lines of "your shirts will be ready the day after tomorrow," since as yet there was no way anyone could say anything about a few moments ago, there not being many of those yet, so it wasn't avery familiar concept, and conversation was limited, as was creativity. Indeed, the song Yesterday could not have been written, since it takes a pretty good string of tomorrows before you get a decent yesterday, one that's got enough emotional heft to make it worth writing a by-now classic song about, so if Paul McCartney had been born back then, he would've just had to stand there tapping his foot until a reasonable past rolled around and who knows what he would have written by then, which would be ok by me, I never liked Yesterday all that much anyhow.

Probably few of us realize how fortunate we are in having been born in the midst of time, rather than at the beginning, when people didn't even have a use for personal names yet, since they'd never met before and had no idea they'd meet again, for example. Back when nothing had happened yet (when "a moment ago" was a meaningless phrase), at the very first minute, or whatever they called it-- we have no idea what they called it because no one was keeping any records, a ludicrous idea at the time-- but whatever the minute was called, when the first one had ticked by, so to speak, no one even knew it had happened! Because clocks were way in the future, along with starting pistols, the future itself being a brand new thing no one yet knew how to talk about currently.

"Currently" is another word they couldn't yet use back at the beginning of before; there were also no such concepts as reporters, schedules, rainchecks, time cards, dental appointments, reservations, no just-in-time, the list goes on. Thanks to those early time pioneers, we can now have lists that go on. What's more, we can speak of them. We have tenses and adverbs now, too. We are fortunate in these regards, and should take the time now and then to be thankful, to express our gratitude for calendars, annuities, insurance, accounting, taxes, interest and last week, among the many other things before has made possible. Though I'm not particularly thankful for last week.


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