Originally written on Oct. 26, 2009
by Pat Nogoy SJ

Time After Time
Cyndi Lauper

Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick,
and think of you
caught up in circles confusion–
is nothing new
Flashback–warm nights–
almost left behind
suitcases of memories,
time after–

sometimes you picture me–
I’m walking too far ahead
you’re calling to me, I can’t hear
what you’ve said–
Then you say–go slow–
I fall behind–
the second hand unwinds

if you’re lost you can look–and you will find me
time after time
if you fall I will catch you–I’ll be waiting
time after time

after my picture fades and darkness has
turned to gray
watching through windows–you’re wondering
if I’m OK
secrets stolen from deep inside
the drum beats out of time–

if you’re lost…

you said go slow–
I fall behind
the second hand unwinds–

if you’re lost…
…time after time
time after time
time after time
time after time

Prologue: Chasing Time

“Time means that which passes away.”—Heidegger, lecture in Time and Being

One of the most difficult realities a lover struggles with is time. To begin, time is commonly experienced as a calibrated measure of a passing of a moment, a day, a year. Given this measure, beings move around as beings-given-in-time, managing objects in the world everyday in the hope of completing the day. Carpe Diem (seizing the day) can be evaluated by the number of fulfilled appointments, completed projects, or finished tasks. Accomplishment is the name of becoming. I become as I accomplish; I truly become after crossing out as many dreams fulfilled in my bucket list, as many responsibilities I consumed into realities. I glorify myself with the many possibilities I turned into realities in a given moment.

And yet the exacting and punishing irony is that I do not have time. I always run out of time like water dripping swiftly from a broken faucet. I always run for time like Hector panting for strength in his grueling and losing fight against a stronger Achilles. I want time and I cannot possess it. It sleekly slips through my fingers like silk, it vanishes the moment I pronounce its name like a phantom. I can never get hold of it, even after fulfilling a thousand bucket lists or consuming thousand possibilities into realities. The more I try to catch it, the more it exasperates me. From anti-aging creams to scientific promises of a prolonged and healthy life, man has been obsessed with time as the coveted Holy Grail, the mysterious elixir modern alchemists dreamt of producing. Yet, I am awakened to the brutal reality of time possessing me.

I am a prisoner of time.

There is no other worse tyrant than time. There is no other greater punishment than seeing life pass by, despite me begging for it to remain. There is no other greater death. Nothing remains of time except its passing away.

Can I free myself from time? Can I be liberated from a broken past and an uncertain future? Can I be forgiven for a painful yesterday and be joyous for an approaching tomorrow? In case of the lover, how can one start anew when the beloved is gone and no more? How can a lover escape the torment of a love that has been or a love that could have been? Simply put, how can a lover move on?

Of Arrivals and Welcomes

“In the sending of Being, the extending of Time, there becomes manifest a dedication, a delivering over to what is their own, namely of Being as presence and of time as the realm of the ‘open’.”—Heidegger, lecture in Time and Being

How does one see one’s existence? They say it is all a matter of perspectives. One can see existence as a result of fate, whereby the stork happens to have a change of mind and drops the package in wrong customer family. Or even the result of a coin toss of gods in the heavens. Existence can be seen as arbitrary—misfortune or luck, tungsten or gold, tragedy or comedy. No matter how many perspectives I forage, no matter how many times I look into the different sides of the prism of my existence, I cannot deny the fact that I exist and this carries a burden. There is a burden to existence since I was not consulted. I did not preempt my existence. I was simply thrown (Dasein) into the world.

My throwness into the world is already a difficult fact to wrestle with (much more existence’s fragility). For my throwness is contingent since I do not have the power to effectuate my own existence. For better or worse, inasmuch as I was thrown into the world, I also can easily disappear. I experience the reality of mortality, of death. Together with (and cannot be separated from) existence is Time. Lying in my bed, I hear the clock tick. The moment I arrive, I am already consigned to leave. Death begins at the moment of birth.

I can remain morbid about my fact of existence and even go to the edges of trying to annihilate myself. Yet I do not hold my existence and as such, I cannot even take it away. For even if I pass, like time, I still remain for my presence is upon the world as a mode of absence. I can never erase my existence. The moment I arrive, I already stamped the world with my presence. Whether I like it or not. Anxiety fills me as I am sensitive to death’s coming every moment, even more so, whatever I do, in the end, would not really matter since all things pass.

How does one begin to rise from the seeming morbid state of existence?

One simply needs to let be.

Letting be should not be confused with indifference or passive resignation to the reality of contingency. Letting be is an active recognition that I simply do not (and cannot) possess anything even my life. Thus, I am not pushed to gorge on all objects in the world, even obsess the prolonging of life, since I accept that all things pass. In utmost acceptance, I brought to see that all things are not mine including my very existence. All are gifts. I have not done (and cannot do) anything to merit these gifts. All, including myself, is given without a priori conditions. In the very first instance, in letting be, I am awakened to the fact that I am loved. Thus, I have no need to possess.

Thus, if I am loved, if everything is gift, if I have no need of possessing, then I can truly love. Letting be opens me to the reality of richness of poverty. I, indeed, have nothing to lose and everything to gain since in the first instance, I do not have any thing. Giving is a possibility. Unconditional loving can happen. If I only choose it.

Letting be liberates me from time for I can see clearly that time is not my possession. In fact, time is my brother, my ally, my friend, my twin. For better or worse, my existence and time share a common umbilical cord. Time is a gift and the one that arrived together with my existence. I do not need to compete with time for time loves me. Time chooses to give itself to me. In this way, I am actually free in time.

When I find myself doing the things that I love—photography, cooking, studying, conversing, I notice that time is never an issue. Whether that conversation lasts for ten minutes to an hour or a day, it is not time that dictates and stops but rather it chooses to give itself to me. I can take as much time as I want especially in doing the things I love. If I only choose it. If I only choose to let be.

And isn’t this the case for the beloved?

I discover that I am not the only being in the world, that I am actually a being-with-beings-in-the-world. Like me, they are also thrown. Like me, they are also contingent. Like me, they are also gifts. Thus, I rejoice with the first gift that is my beloved’s arrival—her existence and time. That she exists, and that she exists in this time, not the past nor the future, but is thrown together, simultaneous, co-incidental with me.

The second gift is her second arrival and that is our crossing of paths—that she not only existed and not only existed in this time, but that also she existed and she existed in the exact time and space as I was. Thus, the triple contingencies (which makes it a charm!), the exponential giving drowns me with joy. For I do not work for it, I do not deserve it (like her), and certainly I could not even imagine it happening. The lover is extremely lucky because of the beloved (whether she knows it or not, whether she will hear from me or not, whether she will stay or not). Indeed, the lover rejoices at the mere sight of the beloved.

Yet all these will not matter, if I do not choose to be a lover. All these will pass (even the feeling of attraction) if I do not choose to admit. The first confession happens with me, in me. To love loving comes down to me. No one falls in love involuntarily or by chance, as JL Marion would write in his La Phenomenon Erotique. The beloved’s arrival will go unnoticed just like the passing breeze or the waving sunset. The beloved’s arrival will go unrecognized like the fleeting clouds that vanish in thin air, or the fading star that is swallowed by the black space. I must confess. I must admit. And my admission is the first incident of welcome. Once I decide to love her, she arrives and I play the host.

And I choose to play the gracious host by giving her everything, including (ironically) what I do not possess.

How can I give her everything if I do not have anything to give?

I simply let her be. And isn’t freedom the greatest gift?

How is this possible? Since everything is a gift, I respond with gratitude. I am grateful for my existence, albeit only for a time. I am grateful for not being alone. I am grateful for having been able to love. I am grateful for my beloved. The mere existence, time, and sight of the beloved is worth more than a thousand universes, more than a million stars, more than the plentiful bright galaxies. Thus, if ever I pass, if my moment comes, if death comes knocking at my door, I will never be afraid or fazed. I become greater (even that of time) because I am loved. Thus, the lover is able to give because he, in fact, knows that he is loved, and loved unconditionally. He knows that he will never be the first to love for his arrival is always late. A sending has already happened and the lover was not part of it, in fact, he is the gift, the delivering good, the package. The lover is always somebody else’s beloved.

Thus, it is possible for the lover to let his beloved be, to give the greatest gift of freedom to the beloved because he is not beholden to anything or anyone including the beloved. He does not have anything, but he has everything because they are given to him, without cost, without collateral. The lover is free to love anybody. That is why he is the most gracious of all hosts, that is why he is the most dangerous of all men. For nobody is as dangerous as the one who has nothing to lose for he has everything to gain.


Of Departures and Farewells

“Time-space is a clearing, an openness, which is cleared and opened up by the mutual reaching over and extending of presence, each to the other…an opening for presence is made by time.”—Heidegger, lecture in Time and Being

The admission, the first confession, makes a being a lover. “I am in love or I love” is tantamount to hoisting the banner of a quest (and an ordeal at that). To love is never easy. It is war—a war primarily against the self that possesses, a war that does not guarantee success (given others who might share the same decision and beloved as I am). For from the point of decision, the fulcrum has changed from me to the beloved; I look out to a brighter sun that is not my own, a shining star that is afar. And the freedom that the lover accords to the beloved puts him in the armor of the warrior, in the breastplate of a knight. The quest has begun. Yet this is a crusade unlike any other. For there is no guarantee.

My profession of love does not guarantee me the beloved’s hand. Not even my gallant stand nor my armaments of talent, character, and physique. Not even the sweetest lyre nor strongest feat can be an able assurance. Yet I choose to give everything I received, to open the doors of space and depth of my inmost self, to promise that which I cannot even actualize to the beloved. I choose to give—in its highest form. I choose to surrender.

Surrender is another form of letting be. To surrender is to offer everything I received—my will, my existence, my time. To surrender is an oblation, deposing me from the throne of control by elevating the beloved. Surrender is not only highest form of respect for it connotes royalty, but also the greatest act of sacrifice. When I decide to surrender, I also choose to sacrifice everything. I am yours, as they say.

And it is up to the beloved—what to do with the offer, the royalty, the divinity that was given to her. It is up to the beloved to decide—whether to accord me the greatest gift by deciding to love or grant me the greatest pain by rejection. The choice is hers. Thus, the lover faced a crusade that is his ultimate wager. The crusade is a wager and the most difficult wager at that for it is all in, all or nothing. The wager is the lover’s triumph or failure, his joy or pain, his life everlasting or death.

And there is no greater pain than the beloved’s departure, in whatever reason, in whatever way.

Whether she died, or loved another, or chose not to stay, the pain cannot be eased by any reason, by any form of rationality. Friends say that there are many others there that can qualify, that she is not worth living for in the present, that she was not even worth sacrificing for in the beginning. Yet, despite the crystal clarity of logic or of reasons, the lover can never deny the pain—the pangs of sacrificing everything for nothing, the searing thrust of a losing wager, the abominable overcast of existence. The world collapses. Life is absurd. Existence is nothing. For how can the lover still pick up himself as he sees his beloved only as a trace of the past or in another lover’s arms? What is there to hold onto when one is the biggest loser the world has seen, when everything is in shambles, when possibility is shattered? Yet the lover continues to fight on by waiting, by hoping. What if hope remains empty and waiting is in vain? For the lover, it is that which keeps him alive. Caught up in circles of confusion, what is left of the lover are only suitcases of memories.

When the beloved decides not to stay or to not even consider the invitation or to flung in another’s arms, she drops a sword unlike any other that slays even the bravest of warriors and renders the most valiant of all knights to the ground. Losses coming from these magnanimous crusades of wagers are strong enough to chain hearts, hot enough to fill anger and hatred, dark enough to blind, heavy enough to crush reason for loving again. They are also cunning enough to seduce even the wisest of men to take his life or to go forever foolish.

Here the lover turns to time. For there is no other witness and no other able companion than time.

The lover gives himself to time—the pain he goes through is slowly washed away as time passes. Incidents become memories just as present fades to the past. Past is no more. It does not exist. Yet it lingers and tries to reach over to the future that is coming toward. A future filled with possibilities. A future filled with hope. Thus, the lover does not forget for the past grants him the beloved’s trace and he continues to hope for despite what happened in the past, despite the trace of a former beloved, the future offers a fresh set of possibilities, whether with the same beloved or to a different one. Time cares for the lover through the gifts of two presences: the reality of the past and the possibility of the future. But this is never easy for the lover for the past haunts him with pain even to the point of obstructing his welcoming of an uncertain future. The past is more than enough ground that can negate the power of possibilities that the future offers by threatening the lover of repetition, by discouraging the lover to love again through its history, or by seducing the lover to remain to a particular beloved for none after will be any like a past beloved. Thus, the lover is faced with scenes of retribution to a past that has either taken his beloved or has failed him in his wager. It is never easy to love again. It is never easy to choose to become a lover after many heartbreaks and heartaches. It always takes time.

How does a lover make a farewell to a departure? Only time knows. For it takes time to be grateful again despite what happened. It takes time to forgive—to completely give—given the trauma of pain. It takes time to wash away everything clean. It takes time for the wounded warrior to heal. It can happen that one does not want to be a lover again and instead decide to be a rogue or a mercenary, plotting of revenge or sowing anarchy through possession and self-defense. But for the one to be a lover again, one must choose to rise up and give. For the lover knows that he cannot possess, that every expedition is a generous wager, that to love is all or nothing.

In holding on to giving, to give without counting the cost for he received much, the lover realizes he did not lose anything. For everything is gift, and as long as he continues to exist, he gives and gives much. He is the only one that can make a fitting farewell, in sincere gratitude, to a beloved’s departure. For he knows that he is poor to begin with, that he does not have but only received. It is in the instance of gratitude where the lover is free. He does not cling to the past nor grips to the future. He knows that the future will eventually fade into the past but what cannot fade is his decision to give, to love. Thus, if the beloved is lost, she will find the lover, time after time. If the beloved falls, the lover will catch her, time after time. His decision to love makes his presence present, time after time. Thus, if there is any present, that is constant, it is the decision to love. In his decision to love again and again and again, the lover moves on.

Time is a witness to the moment whereby a defeated and wallowing loser chooses to don his armor again. Time does not foretell nor condemn but rather lets be. Time gives the gift of freedom for one to decide to be a lover again. Thus, time is the best storyteller of a lover’s moving on, the only chronicler of the most resolute knight the world has ever seen.

Epilogue: Overcoming Time

“An opening of presence is made by time.”—Heidegger, lecture in Time and Being

Ancient Greeks knew two faces of time: one that is chronos that which is sequential. It is in sequential time, divided into past, present, and future that man chases. Chronos is the constancy of that which passes away, leveling all men equal, burdening him of his existence. Man can never outrun chronos; he, instead, is its slave. Chronos is indifferent to man for it is beyond man not co-incidental, not simultaneous, not his twin. Chronos can be identified with Fate or Destiny that often plays their cruel dice in deciding men’s fortune. Men pass as all with other things in the world but not chronos. Men’s lives tick away at chronos’ finger, reminding them of death’s imminent welcome. All things pass.

Yet there is another face that is opposite of Fate. It is called Kairos.

Kairos is an openness of time in which something is delivered. It is also known as the “appointed time” or an “opportune time.” Kairos is also a passing instance and for the Greeks, it also used to refer to weather. Or better yet, to a season.

Letting be is standing in the clearing of time, an opening in which something is delivered. Letting be is not a decision to simply pass away but rather to stand in the flow of chronos, waiting to receive the delivering kairos. Letting be is an active participation in the rhythmic flow of things, including things falling into place. Letting be is an active attuning of oneself to the rhythm of the passing instance of delivering through an opening in time. Letting be welcomes what kairos has delivered.

And that includes pain, sadness, joy, loneliness, fear, doubt, and even dying to oneself. Letting be is simply a decision to give by going through it (but not clinging unto anything)—being forged and hammered by the season of pain, loneliness, fear, doubt, and even of joy, triumph, and glory. And just like a mighty sword fashioned from the heat of fire, strengthened by the deep dip in frigid waters, the lover becomes ever sturdier. For kairos moves him to give by remaining open, by going through the given in its fullness. The lover matures in letting be, just like the budding of a flower or the ripening of fruit or even the healing of a wound. Yet like all budding and ripening, it takes guts and it takes time. It is a matter of suspension and season.

His becoming enables him to overcome time that is chronos for even if he passes away, the constancy of the decision to give (until death), forged by welcoming in fullness each experience, each beloved, each giving, makes him immortal. Physical death can never overshadow (how much muscle it exercises) a seasoned warrior, a knight who has faced a thousand deaths but still able to rise up. The gift of becoming, though may pass away (like a ripe fruit or a fresh blossom), is a moment to die for. And this gift of becoming is delivered and nurtured by the future.

This is the promise of kairos: a fuller tomorrow. A fuller tomorrow does not necessarily mean a brighter day. It can be a dark overcast of doubt or searing moment of pain. Yet in giving oneself, in delivering oneself, in continuing to be open, the lover puts himself at the edge of becoming. For kairos is the able blacksmith who shapes rough metals into Excaliburs, whose soft potter hands contour the clay in form. What is better than today is a promising future, whose promise lies on its delivering, if one attunes himself to the rhythm of things falling into place, if one chooses to go through the experience in open arms, if one continues to give himself in the opening made by time. It is the promise that enables the lover to move on. The future’s promise lies in possibilities. And higher than actuality is possibility.

About Pat Nogoy

Pat was sent to Zamboanga to teach high school students. Despite this mission he shares in the Society of Jesus, he also discovers that philosophy left a trace that continually gives. Time and again, this trace asks him to engage life deeply especially Zamboanga (its cultures, places, and peoples) and prods him to share his reflections. Aside from thinking and writing, he enjoys his other jobs as moderator of the high school choir and of creatively seducing more men to help make God’s dream a reality in the present as Jesuits.

Would ❤️ to hear what you think. 🔆 Share your thoughts below. 👇 ⁠

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s