It’s been almost two months since I wrote in this blog. It’s also just 2 days shy of the 3-month anniversary of my arrival in Manchester. If my life were an hourglass, the grains of sand would be falling faster than the rain that’s been pounding against my window and the pavements this past hellish week of late autumn.
I’ve found it hard to write anything lately, which is why I haven’t written here in so long. I’ve thought of so much to say — about my friends, about my classmates, about football, about my course. I’ve wanted to write about all the minutiae of daily life. I’ve wanted to write about my research, my ideas, my hopes for the future. Yes, I’ve begun to hope again that there is a meaningful future, certainly a miracle. When I felt that I’d be resigned to uncertainty forever, I regained some sense of purpose. I just find it hard to articulate any of it.
Time is a fluid concept, like the rain in Manchester and the water in its canals. Our concept of time is perfectly divisible: the year, the month, the week, the day, the hour, the minute, the second. It’s the division of labour, the accomplishment of a task, the milestone of a birthday or a life event. It’s a science. Time is reflected back at us everywhere.
How strange it is to ponder all of this from the relative comfort of my room in Manchester, the home of Western industrialisation, which changed time forever. What is this word, to have such a presence in my life, in all of our lives? Gendered, classed, colonialised, modernised, repudiated, warped, finite, eternal. It’s the cause of most of my past and present anxiety — why I find it hard to let go of something (time responsible for abrupt change); why I was so unhappy (time responsible for a ‘waste’ of life); why I strive so hard to move on, even when I’m unsuccessful (time as the future). Lost chances, possibilities, impossibilities, opportunities.
I can’t stop myself from wondering all the time, what will time — in some indefinable amount — bring to me? What has time done? I’m 25. That’s something concrete I can tell people. I’m 25, and I have no idea what the hell I’m here for. Was it a mistake to come here and think it could solve anything? To choose Social Anthropology? To incur so much debt getting my master’s degree? What is the end of the line of questioning — where does it stop? What I’m really asking is have I made good use of my life, and my life is measured in time.
When I think I’ve found the answer, it eludes me. That’s kind of how I’ve felt about my course here at the university. I’m not sure what I really expected to get out of Social Anthropology, but the reality is much different than whatever I imagined. I don’t mean that in a negative way, either. The anxiety present in my life is shared by the discipline; the search for meaning, the restructuring of truths, is personal as well as academic. I sometimes stray so close to nihilism that it’s only by some force of will and by maybe not taking myself so seriously that I’m saved from it. A chasm opens before me, and everything around me is in flux. Questions only create questions; they never provide answers.
One thing I can’t escape through time or will is the restlessness. I feel it constantly, two opposing forces of restraint and of some forward momentum. Is life made up of these binary oppositions: contentedness and discontentedness, happiness and sadness, sensation and numbness?