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If you stand on a rooftop along the East River in Brooklyn in the evening and look down past Governor’s Island, down toward the Verrazano Bridge, you can see time. Time as a dimension. Up above your head are lights that seem to be hovering. There’s one close, one a bit further behind, one behind that. They twinkle in the distance and you know, because you know, they’re planes. These planes are lined up for landing at LaGuardia. The space between them is about five minutes, I’ve noticed, which must be the amount of time between landings on whatever runway they’re headed for. And so if there are three planes hovering patiently in the air down the river, you’re looking at a perfect vector that consists of fifteen minutes. If there are five twinkling dots in the sky, you’re seeing twenty five minutes unfurling just above.
What catches me when I look at this is how inevitable these stretches of time are. The planes must move at a certain rate. The line cannot, for the most part, stop and therefore this is a fairly true representation of time. And what catches me as well is that there is diminishment in the size of the planes. The one three back is smaller than the one in the front. The fifth is a distant dot. Visually, it appears quite far away, a small blip on the horizon. Twenty five minutes, from the looks of it, is a good ways away.
Time is a dimension. Einstein gave us this thinking in General Relativity. This is apparent when one is wading through the blinding murk of grief. It initially feels like an impossibility, something so large, so heavy that it might be impassible. But then you’ll notice that the pain gradually lifts in an almost linear fashion. ….