I have a little polaroid camera in my bag. Whenever I find a kind and helpful person while travelling, I click a Polaroid picture for them as a gift.
I had the fortune of meeting a kind bicycle mechanic, Nu, in Chiang Mai.
He helped me even when his shop was shut for the Thai new year.
Moved by his desire to help, I clicked him a nice Polaroid picture with one of his cats in his lap.
He took out a marker to write the date at the bottom of the picture.
It read ‘13-4-2561‘
For a moment I was taken aback.
Was it possible that I was time travelling and breached past the time-space continuum to a point in future?
Nu sensed my curious mix of surprise and disbelief.
‘It is the Buddhist calendar date. Don’t worry !’ he shared smilingly.
I was relieved and a tad disappointed at the same time. Wouldn’t it be fun to have time travelled after all !
The year in which we live is also relative to our set of beliefs. I am sure there will be remote tribes where it would be another calendar year, if they believe in calendar years at all.
That night, back at my hostel, I was sitting in the lounge and writing on my laptop. My laptop still displayed the Indian standard time on it while my cellphone had the Thai time.
I looked at the laptop of a friend sitting next to me. Her clock showed the time in Germany. I looked at another friend who was waiting for sunrise in the west coast of USA so that he could call and talk to his family. It was late at night in Thailand but in our minds we also had the time of the places where our friends and family lived.
I wondered, well,
even time, at the same instant,
Is relative to where a person is.
The other day someone shared an article with me that asserted that time is merely a concept of our own making. Our sense of time is a locally agreed upon reality here on earth. Our understanding of time warps when viewed in the grand timelessness of the cosmos.
How do I make sense of time after all these stimuli broadening my perspective within a span of a day, which is also a local cosmic reality.
I found myself in a Buddhist temple the next morning.
Sitting in front of Buddha’s statue, I asked,
‘What year is it now Buddha?’
He chuckled and replied,
‘There is no real answer for that question.’
‘What day is it then?’
‘ It is today.’ he said matter of factly.
‘And what time is it?’
‘It is now.’
‘What does that mean?’
‘The only true, non negotiable, non relative time, in now. No matter where you are on earth, that stands true, doesn’t it?’
‘Hmm…so ‘now’ is the correct time in your opinion.’
‘It is not my opinion. It is a truism.’ he said.
‘I see, Now is the right time.’
‘Yes, Now is the right time, to do what truly matters to you most.’
We shared the same half smile, the Buddha and I.
I clicked a Polaroid picture with the Buddha. I felt no need to put a date stamp on it.
Enlightened by the profoundly simple sermon, I got up with enthusiasm,
‘To do what truly matters to me, in the present moment.’