Suspense and Endurance


The passage of time is one of the strange phenomena we humans make up in our own minds. It is a measurable, verifiable event. We use the slow dance of atoms to gauge how time passes, in the modern era. Once, it was the dance of the planets and stars overhead that gave us a notion of the passage of time. In the sense of time, things change. A day can pass in a fleeting moment. An hour can drag on relentlessly. The brain has the capacity to perceive time in very different ways, through the mental framework at any given time. 

Waiting makes time go slower. Everyone knows this. It’s only worsened when the expectation for what lies at the other side of that passage is dreadful. Suspense in literature plays on this, the way the heart beats faster while the brain hangs back, afraid, unwilling to confirm the fears that lie ahead in time. There’s nothing that can be done. All is out of control, and time cannot be willed to move an iota faster than it does. All the tension that twists through the body just ratchets tighter and tighter. 

We endure, we humans. It’s what sets us apart from most animals. We have the sense of time, that time passes. That if we wait long enough, good things will come again. We have the ability to delay gratification. Not just for moments, but sometimes for years. We build, small successes stacking up, until suddenly, that last block is in place and we have achieved what we were dreaming of, back in the mists of time. Houses, yes, but also education, and careers, and most of all… children. There are a thousand small despairs along the way. You wonder if this is all worth while. 

Time is a one-way journey. When we get to the point where we think we wanted to be, there’s no turning back and unraveling it to pick up that dropped stitch in time. We will have to spend the nine of the old saying, to make do with that we’ve wrought. Which often means yet more endurance, and you wonder: if this is what life is. Enduring, with flashes of incandescent joy to light the way all too infrequently? 

The dark swallows up the ability to tell time. The dampening effect of depression, or fear, or the blinkers of overwork and obsession. We used to watch the sun rise and set. We trusted that when the darkness came, we would sleep and ease our pain, and rise again in the morning to toil onwards to our objectives. 

Endure much. Persevere beyond reckoning. The rewards of life are many. Some are as small as a flower springing up from the last crust of snow. Others are as simple as the sun rising every morning without fail, and the stars coming out at night in the swirling rhythm of our planet hurtling ’round the sun. Others are as complex as the first cry of a child, brought from warmth into the first chill of the world, before being wrapped in the strong embrace of parental adoration. We come into this world under unbearable pressure, and all is confusion and unfocused for a time.  We endure. 

No matter where you are, there is time. Time to stop a second, and look for beauty. Fill your soul up a bit with something that eases this slogging transition from hour to hour, day to day. This, too, shall pass. I know this. I promise you. The sun is rising already, and offering warmth if you will stop and let your darkness fall away for a moment. 



6 responses to “Suspense and Endurance”

  1. Marcus Aurelius might have written this, were he a modern man and a touch more eloquent. Renunded me of a John Muir quote fancy:
    “This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere: the dew is never all dried at once: a shower is forever falling, vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.”
    I can’t compose higher praise.

    1. Cedar Sanderson Avatar
      Cedar Sanderson

      John Muir was a man who appreciated beauty and had the ability to bring it springing to life in the midst of dry black ink and white paper.

  2. Kathleen Sanderson Avatar
    Kathleen Sanderson

    “This, too, shall pass.” That phrase has helped me get through the worst times of my life. Only God and Heaven are forever. Everything else passes, and something else takes it’s place.

    Children are worth the time and the heartaches (usually). It just doesn’t always feel like it, LOL! But then, usually, they come around and become a blessing.

    And did you know there is a cigarette butt on the ground next to the flowers? LOL!

    1. Cedar Sanderson Avatar
      Cedar Sanderson

      I did not! I took that years ago, in, I think, the library flowerbeds. This morning I just grabbed a crocus photo from my archives.

  3. Grrr. Reminded, not renunded, and “I fancy.” I gotta quit spitting cocktails on the keyboard.

  4. “We build, small successes stacking up, until suddenly, that last block is in place and we have achieved what we were dreaming of, back in the mists of time … There are a thousand small despairs along the way. You wonder if this is all worth while.”

    I was thinking of that as something I could talk to my kids about, but it occurred to me that maybe Daddy needs to remember it as well. Or maybe more.