Master, what of Time? / Arathi Devandran

The Prophet by Khalil Gibran was gifted to me in Bangalore many years ago. In a quiet café, while waiting for my best friend to arrive, I read Gibran’s meditations and understood, for the first time, how everything in this universe – the passing of seasons, the creation of life, the meeting of people, beginnings and ends, memories and the future – so in essence everything to and around and above and under Time was held together by love.

I wish I had known this a little better many years ago, when I first encountered love and tried to grasp it tightly with both hands, so hard that I squeezed the life out of myself and out of my lover, and all that remained of that beautiful coupling was salt, so much salt, and bits of skin and the occasional visitation of a memory in dreams so lucid I could not tell what was real, and what wasn’t.

If then, if then I had understood that nothing is eternal, and yet everything is, that this existence is beyond human action and emotion and far beyond what the human mind is taught to comprehend and understand, then maybe, maybe, it would have been easier. Maybe.


And an astronomer said, Master, what of Time?
And the Prophet answered:

You would measure time the measureless and the immeasurable. You would adjust your conduct and even direct the course of your spirit according to hours and seasons. Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing. 

Yet the timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness, and knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream. And that that which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling within the bounds of that first moment which scattered the stars into space.

Who among you does not feel that his power to love is boundless? And yet who does not feel that very love, though boundless, encompassed within the centre of his being, and moving not from love thought to love thought, nor from love deeds to other love deeds? And is not time even as love is, undivided and paceless?

But in your thought you must measure time into seasons, let each season encircle all the other seasons. And let today embrace the past with remembrance and the future with longing.


The thing about time is, sometimes it repeats itself. Or rather, you find yourself repeating your own actions over periods of time. You say the same things, you find yourself in the same situations, you end up in the same places, you meet the same types of people. Time is, in parts, repetitive; it is as if the universe is trying to push you to grow in a certain way and you are not being very cooperative about it so the universe nudges you down the same path, for the same lesson, maybe with different characters, and time takes on the cadence of the familiar.

There is a new love now and time seems strange, almost elastic. At once, it is slow and fast – slow because every moment shared with the lover is soft, stretched out, precious, treasured; fast because no matter how much we want time to stop to extend that moment of love longer, time does not stop for anyone and the joy and passion and bittersweet knowledge of the passing of time accelerates it, almost. There is a clock, and it is ticking and there is a sandstorm of emotions kicking beneath us both and we stand together silent, because what is time, if not the eternal present, the only thing that we can be sure of, right now, here, together.

And perhaps, when it is time, because it will be time, because that is how time works, in seasons, then it will be easier to release this love into the universe and to keep close, the memory, the truth, this love.


Arathi Devandran curates personal experiences, snapshots of the world and the stories people are willing to share with her through prose and poetry

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