‘Man’s instincts cling to a life that will never end.’
The Story of Alice
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst biography of Charles Dodgson/Lewis Carroll
There is a part of our human make-up that resists the thought that life consists only of ‘three-score years and ten’ , plus a bit, maybe: a possible extension, if health conditions permit. (Psalm 90:10)
Scrooge, of A Christmas Carol, following his epiphany declared, ‘ I’m quite a baby. Never mind. I don’t care. I’d rather be a baby.’ Scrooge had passed through a re-birth of himself, under the revelations brought by those three spirits and harbingers of Time. Time itself had not reversed; it (or He?) continued inexorably forward. But Ebenezer, with his new start, could make better use of Time that lay ahead of him still. He was the same age, but wiser and kinder. Time itself had not reversed; it (or He) continued inexorably onward and forward. It is only in the fictional and fabulous world created by Lewis Carroll that Time can be adjusted at will.
Time as a topic puzzled Charles Dodgson / Lewis Carroll, in pinning down specific times. In his story telling, ‘chronology went on holiday’ and Time was given a persona. The Hatter tells Alice, ‘If you knew Time as well as I do, you wouldn’t talk about wasting ‘it’. It’s a him’.
Time cannot be reversed. It may be extended. And Time may certainly be better used.
Cryogenics seems to be an attempt of medical science at pausing Time, awaiting a future where disease and death are dispelled so that life may be restored and reconstituted. But this process is well beyond my thinking here.
The poet Isaac Watts in one of his hymns used on State occasions or in moments of importance, draws contrast between our perception of time, and the realism of eternity. In his stanzas are expressed :
a thousand ages
And then –
Time , like an ever rolling stream
Bears all its sons [and daughters] away.
They fly forgotten as a dream
Dies at the opening day.
These lines were written 400 years ago, but set against the background of Eternity, what are four centuries?
Life, living, Time past, present and future are governed by far more than clock or calendar. Cryogenics stands as much chance of improving the human lot, as does opening up a better and improved human colony on Mars. The odds in both are too long. Something shorter and nearer to hand is needed.
Our times are in Thy hand;
O God, we wish them there;
Our lives, our souls, our all, we leave
Entirely to Thy care.
WF Lloyd (1824)
It doesn’t get any closer to hand than that.