Time Is a Relative Thing

Stephen F. Dennstedt

Time is a relative thing. If you have any doubts about that statement checkout Einstein. I am seventy years old but have the heart and imagination of a ten-year old. One of life’s cruel little jokes I suppose. I am six years older than my father ever was and seventeen years older than my mother ever was. I am even eleven years older than my youngest brother ever was, forty-nine years older than my best friend ever was and a staggering sixty-four years older than my first love ever was. Time is relative.

I am even two years older than my first wife ever was. These were significant people in my life and this doesn’t even take into account the countless others that have passed before me: extended family, friends and comrades-in-arms. I think in many ways I am the lucky one enjoying the fruits of a life well-lived (although some of that fruit has since soured and become rotten). My first love died when she was just six years old (a victim of the polio pandemic of 1953) and my best friend died at twenty-one.

Valle de la Muerte (Valley of Death) – Atacama Desert, Chile

Sometimes, in a particularly reflective moment, I think maybe they were the lucky ones—dying with their innocence intact and their dreams, hopes and aspirations left un-shattered. Then I scold myself for being the old cynical bastard I am (although there is still a glimmer of idealism and romance deep within my core). Life is a gift, whether bestowed by God or a mechanical universe, and should be celebrated as such. To do any less is to be a mean-spirited son-of-a-bitch—and hopefully I haven’t reached that point yet. When I’m in the wilderness (often alone) photographing my critters, landscapes and seascapes I glory in what it is to be truly alive.

Volcanic Sunrise – Monterrico, Guatemala

Life is precious and should never be taken for granted and I think we have a sacred duty to those who have passed before us to treat it with respect and to live it to its fullest. I am admittedly on the downhill (slippery) slope of a life well-lived but I still feel like I could live forever—time is relative. For me, nature is rejuvenation and a metaphysical testament to something more—something bigger than us. My philosophy of life and the world around us is more Buddhist and Taoist in flavour and supports the notion that somehow we transcend this so-called reality (when our time comes) in one form or another. Theologians and scientists alike seem to agree that neither energy nor intelligence can be destroyed (even by physical death). Some would argue this is our God-given nature.

Volcanic Sunset – Monterrico, Guatemala

Regardless of your spiritual discipline or beliefs (or lack thereof) I think that we can all agree life is worth living (it beats the hell out of the alternative as they say). And if it’s worth living, then by extension it’s worth living well. Six years ago (after hitting rock bottom) I promised to live my life in a better and more fulfilling way, my motto (my credo) today is to: live simple, live cheap and to live free. Henry David Thoreau famously said: The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. It was true then and it’s true now—I no longer consider myself one of those men. I travel the world 365-days a year (with only a rucksack) as a photographer, writer and armchair philosopher. Maybe it’s time to reflect on your life, it’s never too late to make course corrections.

12 responses to “Time Is a Relative Thing

  1. Excellent advice and thoughts Stephen, I still have that little boy inside me and like Peter Pan I don’t want him to ever grow up. He is the one that pushes me out the door with camera in hand to search for critters in Never Land. Shit that was an unintended rhyme.

    • My ex-wife used to chastise me regularly for not growing up and acting my age. Solution? Stay young and dump the wife. Best decision I ever made. I may be old but I’m about as HAPPY as I’ve ever been. 🙂 Have you noticed, when you’re out photographing the critters, the animals NEVER criticise you? There must be a moral there somewhere. 🙂

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