by Michael Angerer
Change is best seen in hindsight. We may sometimes foresee, forewarn and foresuffer all, but the truth is that Tiresias was very much an isolated case; people seldom look forward and say: ‘How time will fly!’ We cannot even hold to the now, the here, because the future does not plunge perceptibly into the past. Slowly, every day, every hour, every minute, every second, a chunk of time uneasily shifts its position and furtively glides backwards over the intangible line of the present; and, as it crosses the unimaginable limit, it takes on form, texture, a meaning; and, neatly layered behind us, all these chunks are the only part of our life we truly see. We cannot sift through layers that are not yet there; time must be lost for us to search for it, eating madeleines and drinking tea.
When we, the starry-eyed freshers, left our towns of red brick, or brick that would have been red had it not been concrete or glass or steel instead, we were expecting change to come suddenly. The city of dreaming spires was to receive us with pomp and circumstance as we leapt into the future and towards our destinies, and within days we would be completely different people – students living the student life. The truth, however hackneyed it may sound, is that no such thing has happened. Here we sit, still our dear old selves, as will we be tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow; but all our yesterdays show how the self can shift to adapt to the grooves life has laid out for us. We have all had our salad days, and even as you read these words their boundaries are shifting, gliding slowly forwards, to encompass an even larger part of your life; but you will not hear the scraping as they move.
When April comes with his sweet showers, we will look back and say: ‘October seems like yesterday!’ And then, in a quiet moment of thoughtfulness, we will examine the layers of the past more carefully, and see that they do not align perfectly: slowly, every day, every hour, every minute, every second, our perspective will have shifted and moulded itself to the realities of life. This is the moment we realise our past is strange to us: who are those lonely figures fighting the dragon of procrastination, holding a mountain pass against invading hordes of essays and sounding their Oliphant horn? Lo, we have heard of the glory of students in days of yore.