Time

Time from Daniel Fox on Vimeo.

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser* Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.” Replicant Roy Batty Blade Runner

Batty, in his last words, accepts that despite his physical superiority, that after his failure of finding a way to live longer, time is something that he simply can’t avoid and defeat. It is the reason why he saves Deckard. Looking down at him and seeing him struggle, holding on for his dear life, he realizes at that moment that both of them are equal – two creatures trying to survive, trying to hold on and extant beyond that finite existence that nature has given them.

I am standing in the middle of a black lava field that stretches for miles in all directions. I am told that prior to the eruption, this now barren landscape was lush with trees and filled with life. The beach at the ocean was so beautiful that it was the official island postcard, promoting this divine location – palm trees over a black sand beach. But time has scorched this once beauty – covered in molten black rock, twisted and burned by fire, trapped under a blanket of desolation. It is easy to loose hope in this No Man’s Land, a place where even the strongest of gods would feel abandoned – Hades never forgave his brothers. But all this is part of nature’s plan.

Past sunset, the sky and the horizon become one. The darkness takes over and if it wasn’t for this cloudless night with its millions of stars and gravity keeping me grounded, I wouldn’t know which way was up or which way was down. Despite the eeriness of the moment, something incredible is happening.

Pele_01

According to the Hawaiian mythology, Pele is the goddess of fire, lightning, wind and volcanoes. It is believed that she lives in the Halema’uma’u crater, at the summit caldera of Kilauea, one of the Earth’s most active volcanoes. The residents of the Big Island take their belief in her quite seriously. And I understand now.

While daylight reveals a tortured landscape, at night time it is the blood of the planet that suddenly comes to be seen.  And there is nothing tortured about it. Life is what is flowing under my feet. I feel it, I feel Pele, I feel the earth, I feel its force, its intensity – it is then that I realize, this place is not about death and destruction, it is about life and creation.

This planet is a creation of time. We are in fact nothing but the result of an ongoing experiment that has been going on for millions of years. Time is nature, it is the force that drives everything. As I stand by this boulder the size of a bus, slowly cracking its way forward, I come to understand the pace and rhythm of life.

“It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Man’s relationship with time couldn’t be more different. Nature has given us time to evolve and develop an intelligence that is unmatched on this planet. But like any good fable, with such incredible potential came an even greater burden – self awareness. As much as we think of ourselves as omnipotent, god-like and capable of outstanding feats, we are nonetheless simple mortals that cripple over time. Independently of our legacy, even the greatest of kings will be at one point forgotten and become nothing. Our existence might be relevant to us, but in the scheme of the universe, we are nothing, not even a grain of sand.

Facing our mortality and vulnerability, we see time as a disease, as a theft, as an injustice, as a destructive force and as the most valued currency we possess. Aristotle said that

“Time crumbles things; everything grows old under the power of Time and is forgotten through the lapse of Time.” 

And Napoleon reminded us that

There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men:  time. 

Cecelia Ahern, in her book The Gift, wrote that

“Time is more precious than gold, more precious than diamonds, more precious than oil or any valuable treasures. It is time that we do not have enough of; it is time that causes the war within our hearts, and so we must spend it wisely.”

ruled by the fire

But isn’t it through time that the most beautiful things are created? It takes nine months for a mother to create life. It takes years to find that peaceful place in your heart. It takes a lifetime to realize that your most precious possessions were the simplest things you tried so hard to avoid. Time is the complexity that I taste in my wine, it is the beauty of an oxidized piece of copper. It is the essence of everything I cherish and it is my mentor as it brings me back to reality and makes me understand the universe.

I once read a story about an Elder telling a young woman of her frantic pace and need to get things done on time – “You have watches, but no time.” In this culture of speed where even the simple gesture of saying thank you is seen as a waste of time (NY Times), where anything above 140 characters is not worth reading, how will we ever understand and appreciate the beauty of life? How will we achieve wisdom if we can’t even appreciate the time it takes to become wise. Have we become spoiled and arrogant, basking in a culture of convenience and overnight deliveries? Maybe it is time to stop and look at the world around us and realize what we have been missing.

Like a petal in the wind
Flows softly by
As old lives are taken
New ones begin
A continual chain
Which lasts throughout eternity
Every life but a minute in time
But each of equal importance

Cindy Cheney

Little drops of water, little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean, and the pleasant land.
So the little minutes, humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages of eternity.

Julia Carney

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A BIG thank you to LENSRENTALS, SANDISK AND JADE CHEN

* “Probably from Richard Wagner’s operatic adaption of the legend of the medieval German knight and poet Tannhäuser. Joanne Taylor, in an article discussing film noir and its epistemology, remarks on the relation between Wagner’s opera and Batty’s reference, and suggests that Batty aligns himself with Wagner’s Tannhauser, a character who has fallen from grace with men and with God but does receive redemption at the end. Both, she claims, are characters whose fate is beyond their own control.”

Alligator, Earthworm and Champagne

“… It was my understanding that I was going to participate in a dignified ritual. Here I was, in an estancia (ranch) surrounded by mountains and lakes, where cattle still roam free and horses are the main means of transportation. I wanted to respect what the cow had lived for. I wanted to be there and honor her death and the legacy she would leave behind. Instead, what I witnessed, was a brutal and perverted act of barbary. From the kill to the skinning, everything was done with disdain. I found myself sad, not for her death, but for us, humans and how, even in the most remote places imaginable, where one would expect the deepest communion with nature, how disconnected we have become …” excerpt from my story W.H. Hudson

I am a meat and fish eater and I surely don’t hide my love for it. I do not believe or prescribe that one diet fits everyone. Much has been said about the Blood Type diet, and I do side with this belief. My body simply doesn’t work well and can’t process milk and grain product. But give it a Paleo diet and it thrives. I take good care of choosing where my meat comes from and refuse to eat mass processed food, whether they are veggies or anything else. My bottom line is that if I don’t understand the ingredients, then I my body won’t either.

I do not believe that being vegetarian or vegan is THE solution for our food problem. Independently of the food we eat, it is the scale of consumerism that is simply unsustainable. Jungles in South America are being cut not for cattle but for soy. Corn and soy are over 90% GMO. And when Oprah Winfrey proclaimed the benefits of the Acai berry on her show, she sent the entire small local sustainable harvest into an unbalanced one that didn’t know how to answer the sudden demand.

As I have written in my story W.H. Hudson, it is easy to judge one’s diet when grocery shopping from decadent temples of food consumerism where everything is available at any time of the year. Nature has no place in these stores and its seasonal rhythm is seen with annoyance. So it makes sense to fly apples from New Zealand during winter so that our food habits don’t get interrupted and critic anyone who goes fishing or hunting at the source.

Last weekend, I was in New York for the Explorers Club annual gathering, hosted like every previous year, at the prestigious Waldorf Astoria hotel, on Park avenue. The Club has had a long tradition of serving exotic dishes prior to its gala dinner. This year was no different – as one can read from the NY Times article in the Diner’s Journal. On the menu were muskrat, beaver, alligator, ostrich, boar, goat, earthworm, cockroaches and more. The display didn’t go well at all with many of my fellow explorers / environmentalists. I don’t really tend to side with the “Veggie People”, but in this case I do – simply not for the same reasons as theirs. Before I explain myself, let me point to the irony of the NY Times’ article – James Cameron is chosen to quote on the exotic buffet, while in reality he is an avid promoter of eating nothing but vegetables!

I do oppose the bizarre culinary ritual for the following reason – I simply do not think it is justifiable. It is one thing to find yourself in the wilderness and share the local food habits, but paying $400 to gorge on exotic animals while dressed in a tuxedo, drinking champagne on one of the most expensive streets in the world doesn’t sound “Explorer’ish” to me. It might have worked in the past to attract fundraising from a crowd that knew so little of the outside world, but in today’s reality – I strongly believe that it doesn’t have its place. In fact I think that the practice is childish, provocative and quite frankly rude.

Most of these animals can be eaten in a sustainable way. In fact I have visited places, like in Argentina where a caiman farm has not only helped reduce poaching, but also has increased the population in the wild. The problem is mainly one of consideration and social etiquette. In a world of many diets, strong opinions and social media, these kind of events just don’t cut it.

Judging from the emails in my inbox, I don’t think that the Explorers Club is getting any good publicity and will certainly not increase its membership this way either. It is the second time that I witness the food served at ocean or nature related events backfiring. The other instance was at the Blue Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit, when James Cameron received his award and told the crowd that going veggie was the way of the future, only that have the following diner served steaks! I know that the Pacific Voyagers Foundation made it clear that it wouldn’t get involved anymore if the Summit didn’t change its food policy. The result was that at the beginning of the year, Blue Ocean announced that it was now moving forward with a strictly vegetarian menu.

I don’t think that the Explorers Club should do the same but getting rid of that culinary farce is surely a priority. In a place where exploration should ride on the same level as honoring nature, champagne and alligator are more barbaric anachronisms than anything else. Mind as well go ahead and serve shark fin soup and rhinoceros powder – of course from sustainable farm!

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