Time and time again

Illustration by Marshall Reeves

Somewhere in his Confessions St. Augustine points out that since the Lord created heaven and earth, he must have also created time.

Probably because my thoughts usually go nowhere near as deep as those of the saint, I never thought of that. But it sure makes sense. Vaguely, anyway, because I can’t imagine anything without time attached to it. Just like I can’t imagine the universe, eternity or a self-effacing Donald Trump.

But time seems particularly elusive for me, because it’s all around, encroaching on everything I do or plan to do. There are those adjectives like “timeless” or “timely” that seem to profess our knowledge of the qualities of time. In fact, what we know about time — to use a Bogartian expression from the Casablanca airport — doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.   Then there is the saying that our lives, i.e. time on earth, is short. As compared to what – the elephant or a Douglas fir? Fine, but what about that of a cocker spaniel, the fruit fly or an aphid? Frankly, I think the length is just right for humans, though I may change my mind as I approach my final moments.

Still, I think it’s basically about quality time. I don’t think St. Augustine meant his statement to be a starting point for fruitless speculations on the nature of time, but rather as a method to awaken us to how we are spending it.

Amen to that.


Introduction to Drabek’s Glossas

According to one wag the two signs of old age are:

a. the inability to stay with a thought.

b. the inability to leave that thought.

As a well-established octogenarian, I have been warned of the dangers. In this collection, I have tried to avoid them by limiting myself to one-page essays, which I call glossas. I feel that brevity has become a lost art in this age when so many people live in constant fear of being misunderstood. We tend to explain and explain — God, how we explain! And since our emails often abbreviate only words, not thoughts, I consider this to be a pioneering effort.

My glossas deal with some of the things I feel qualified to comment upon and quite a few I don’t. That too is downright revolutionary, because until now it has been largely assumed that such things as conflict avoidance and pathology should be left to the experts. But let’s be honest about it: that kind of approach has left us with two world wars and something called 9/11. And we’re still without a cure for the common cold.

This volume then breaks entirely new ground in that it explores home remedies. And since the paper’s getting short, let’s begin.

Jan Drabek

Jan Drabek


The octogenarian Jan Drabek has been an ambassador in Africa, Chief of Protocol, author, Vancouver High School teacher, a graduate student in southern India, a radio announcer in Germany, a sailor aboard a US aircraft carrier, and a failed naval aviator trainee.