Something is off

Something is off. Life passes and we do not recognize it. The past streams through us like molecules we can’t perceive…They are not so much remembered as resurrected in us, little stitches of ordinary time that suddenly —a prick in the existential skin, a little dot of Being’s blood— aren’t. Is it merely certain temperaments—inclined to solitude and absence, feasting on distances —that are at once susceptible to these little epiphanies and yet slow to recognize them for what they are? Or is it a symptom of the times— distracted, busy, forward-rushing— that we are in? Or a symptom of time itself as we have come to understand it:

We have constructed an environment in which we live a uniform, univocal secular time, which we try to measure and control in order to get things done. This “time frame” deserves, perhaps more than any other facet of modernity, Weber’s famous description of a “stahlhartes Gehäuse” (iron cage).

—Charles Taylor, A Secular Age

~ Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013)




  1. Alex Jones says:

    For those that can see they might see time, space and motion is relative to the perception of the individual. Such people might ask if such relative perceptions are real or an incorrect perception of something else.


  2. This touched something deep. Maybe it’s that I’m sorting and cleaning out generations of stuff from my Mom’s house, finding pictures of great-great-relatives I’ve never seen before. The past seems to be blowing through me like a reed. I need to find this book.


  3. This pressing need to “get things done,” check another item off the to-do list, to be productive, always productive, has I fear become so all-consuming that it sometimes is tough to remember what it is we’re rushing towards. Unnerving actually….


    • Yes Lori. Exactly. I shared a another quote in a response below to Beth that I thought captured this “unnerving”…


      • Or, this one:

        We are driven ceaselessly onward in this life and are certain of our desires only until we realize them, at which point they seem to dissolve and shimmer farther off, like a heat mirage on a road down which we can’t stop racing. Unlike Yeats, though, for whom that road ends at a massive wall into which we finally, fatally slam, for Herbert the very permanence of our longing is proof of longing’s eventual fruition. That doesn’t mean that this fruition is forever forestalled. It isn’t “heaven,” exactly, except insofar as we learn to see, as he says in another poem, “Heaven in ordinary.”

        ~ Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer


  4. Time…. is such an interesting, thought provoking topic… the more we think about it and trying to capture it… the more it slips by… never being able to retrieve it


  5. yes, and we search for the key to release us from this self-imposed iron cage we live within.


    • Iron cage of our mind. Iron cage of Technology, Social Media. Yes. We try to control it all. Beth, I found this passage to be insightful as well:

      Either his actions acquire a deeper purpose and begin to echo and counterpoint each other, or the moment and the man slip back into unfeeling frenzy, and the screech and heat and hate of his days lock metallically around him again.

      ~ Christian Wiman, My Bright Abyss: Meditation of a Modern Believer.


  6. This book is clearly a deep vein to mine, DK. Thx for sharing…


  7. My first thought is to blame our uber-connected society as the culprit making us distracted, busy, forward-thinking, but then even before social media, etc., it was probably like this and only recognized in hindsight.


  8. gonna move into this week doing my best to not feel the iron cage around me…love your thought provoking, heart inspiring posts, david!


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