Does the title of this post have you a bit worried? (Me too.) A bit skeptical? (Yup.) A bit concerned that I have taken my sordid affair with Mr. Metaphor too far? (Could be. But all’s fair in love and war, right?)
Time is a sandwich. The sandwich of our lives. We have no choice but to taste it. To consume it. To swallow it. To digest it. And we do. Constantly. Yum.
The Past. The Past is one hearty slice of bread. Or bagel. Or roll. Pick your favorite species of carb. It doesn’t much matter. The Past is the foundation. It sits there, in subversive or soggy silence, on the plate that is life. It is what it is. We can’t change it. We need it to make our sandwich.
The Present. Ah, the Present. This is the middle. The heart of it all. The good stuff. The turkey. Or cheese. The hot and spicy peppers. The pickles. The fresh stuff—lettuce and tomatoes. (I’m trying here. I don’t know what you like in your sandwich.) The Present is the source of surprise, taste, and nutrition. The proverbial meat of it all.
The Future. And then we have the Future. The topper. More bread. But we never know how thick that slice will be, do we? Or whether it will come. The Future, unlike the Past, is not a guarantee. There is always that chance that our sandwich will be open-faced.
Fine. So? Time to eat?
Have you ever had a sandwich in which the bread is just too much? And when you bite it, you can’t even taste the middle stuff? The good stuff? This happens all the time. Our slices of Past and Future are too bulky and we can neither taste nor savor the Present. This is adulthood, no? Our mind zips between who we once were and who we will be one day. Our focus and our fears are trained on Then and When and not Now.
So should we try to honor Atkins and banish the bread? Should we try to pile our plate high with proverbial protein? Should it all be about engaging in the Present? It can’t be. Our identities are wrapped up in who we once were and who we will be. A sandwich is no longer a sandwich without bookends of bread. (Oh no. A new metaphor. Stopping now.)
How, in the process of consuming time and living life, do we not miss the Present, the meat of it all? In trying so hard to taste the present moment, do we somehow miss its essential flavor?
I don’t pretend to know. But thanks to my brilliant friend Lindsey of A Design So Vast, I am now thinking about these things. Click over to read my Present Tense interview with Lindsey where I ponder these important and intriguing questions about existential nutrition a bit more seriously.
So, what is your favorite sandwich? Do you buy this metaphor? That the present moment can often get squeezed mercilessly by the bulky bread of past and future? What about the condiments? What glues together the various components of time?