Photo by Sigmar Schnur on Unsplash

If time were to pause, would we even know it? Imagine staring at a cornfield on a summer day, feeling the hot breeze on your skin, and seeing how that same breeze makes the cornstalks sway. You hear the rustle of the leaves as they brush against each other. The activity of insects rings faintly in your ear. Clouds calmly drift across the dome of the sky.

If, while you were watching and feeling this, time had stopped and resumed, nothing about your perceptions would have changed, because we only sense time as an ordered progression of changes. Time is flowing because things are changing; when time stops, all hovers in perfect stillness, and all noticing stops.

Perhaps you imagine a sort of panic, like a skipped heartbeat? Why has everything stopped? Why can’t you even feel your heartbeat? Even when you shudder, as you realize you can’t roll your head and eyes to see to the right or left, you note the missing knot of tension in your body, because your blood lies still, and your nerves are a frozen river. You have no body.

No, that wouldn’t be time stopping — it would have to be time fracturing, in a manner that stopped all physical processes, but left mental processes active and engaged. In the physical world, even the propagation of light would cease, and so we’d be plunged into darkness. Light has stopped propagating, and so we would not even see the perfectly still cornstalks. Everything would be silent too. So if time were to fracture like this, and our synapses pause . . .

. . . then the stillness would be one not of panic,
but of hunger.

As hard and as cruel as the world is,
without it we,
the restless,
would flail about for it like an abandoned lover.

Retired software developer, husband, father. Student of history. Met Fan

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