This essay first appeared on the travel blog Where Is Your Tootbrush?
Time flows differently on the road. When you don’t have a regular job to go to, days of the week become equal. Many times I’ve found myself wondering if it was Tuesday or Saturday.
Traveling, clock time gives way to event time: with the exception of departures, you shift from acting when the clock tells you to when it feels right. You write not for a measly hour before your commute but when the words want to come out. Lunch at noon changes to eating when hungry. A weekend outing becomes a trip whenever you want.
Where is it, this present? It has melted in our grasp, fled ere we could touch it, gone in the instant of becoming. William James
Wave Time: Koh Samui, Thailand
From my lounge chair in the shade of coconut trees on Bang Por Beach, I watch the green-blue hues of the Gulf of Thailand change as clouds race across the sun. A white-bellied sea eagle circles overhead, higher and higher until it disappears toward the east. Fishing boats and ferries crisscross the horizon. Clusters of seaweeds, leaves, and branches break against a rusted buoy. Waves knead the coarse sand, rolling into themselves like dough, over and over and over. A scattering of vacationers from nearby resorts walk by in silence. As a black butterfly the size of my palm dances into view, I get the feeling I am gazing at the edge of the world.
Somewhere in the world of memory it’s Christmas.