What does it mean to be alive? Does it mean anything since it doesn't last? Everything that is born must die, and time travels linearly in one direction. Doesn't it? I remember my parents and my children who are gone from this earth, and they sometimes return to me in dreams. Their essence is still within me. But are they no longer valid to the world because they are dead? Are they only alive inside my mind?
Here is an excerpt from page 222 in Dolphin Street. Bear with me, because I cannot say this as well as Faulks. Mary is married with two children and is having an affair with Frank:
Frank's face looked suddenly exhausted, shot with the fatigue of his life's exertion. He paused in his dressing.A place where time runs a different way. In our dreams, time is not linear. In my thoughts about my loved ones, my love is not linear; that is, it was not more or less at different times, it just is. The Bible tells us that love is eternal. Emily Dickinson says, "That Love is all there is / Is all we know of Love." As far as I know, I am in pretty good health, but there is no guarantee that I will be around tomorrow to write another post. In fact, all over the world people are dying right now, being born into the world right now, and pretty much experiencing the entire gamut that Life offers us. Right now is also all we have. I can think about the past and imagine the future, but right now, this instant, is really all there is, unless... unless, as Mary says, we can find a better way of "properly ordering value," or in my words, valuing the whole enchilada.
"What do you want from me, Mary?"
"I want you to prove to me..." she spoke slowly, taking his question literally, "that time doesn't matter."
"What do you mean?"
"If you say that only what lasts is worthwhile, then nothing is valuable, because everything passes. Isn't it enough that something should have existed, just once? Don't you think it continues to exist in some world where the pettiness of time is not so important?"
"I don't think I understand."
"I love you so much that I can't believe that what we feel began only when I met you and will end when I stop seeing you."
Frank nodded. "That I understand."
"Therefore the idea of a starting point or an end is in some way mistaken. Therefore, therefore... There is a world outside time, which..." She trailed away.
"Where we can be together but you can still have your other life?"
"Something like that, but not just a convenient solution. An explanation, a way of properly ordering value. An eternity that is more than just time without ending. A place where time runs a different way."
And this brings me back again to my favorite existential dilemma: am I simply the sum of my experiences and my genes? Or is there something else that my little brain cannot even fathom in its finiteness? (That's what I believe deep down, and hope that will be revealed to me when I pass over, if there's any justice in the universe.)
Yesterday at the optometrist's office I found that my eyesight may be going. Age-related macular degeneration and some missing vision fields in my right eye. I'll be heading to a neurologist for some tests one of these days, but it's not a comfortable thing to contemplate. I use these eyes every day, almost every minute, and wonder: if I go blind, will I dream in the same way as I do now?