Tonight, as I driving the Taurus home after seeing Emily for the last time this summer, I felt a bit like Jeremy Clarkson when he talks about how it felt driving the Aston Martin Vantage V12. Our Ford Taurus station wagon has been part of my life for most of it. While I do remember when we bought the car and time before then, it quickly became and is the paradigmatic car in my life psyche. I could go on, but its just filler.
What I’m trying to say is that what I was driving was an Ending. When I saw Emily tonight, one of the first things she said to me is that it was the “end of times” – the last time I would see her this summer, or in dialect: the last time we would have “times”. Times are not seconds, they are meaningful events, durations, happenings, dwellings, schisms, spikes, evenings, Hooligan Night, etc…Times are not things that happen in time, time is an abstraction from Times which helps us get a hold on “having times”. Proof: without times, there would be no time. Without humans with respect to which dimensions to extend, it would make no sense to differentiate between extension and duration, or even to talk about “extention” or “duration” at all. Only because times are can there also be something called “time”.
Of course times are not ending, but this is the “end of times”. This is the end of the summer. This is September 1st! This is the end of the 2 month heatwave! Hiking today up Hollyburn? Rain, or at least clouds, humidity, spitting. Few hikers. Tuesday – back to work, back to school.
Driving home tonight I felt that what I was driving was an ending. What is an ending? An “ending” is a time. The end of times is a times! What characteristics does it have? Drawing-to-a-close (meaning) and cessation (death). Heidegger says Man’s death is his only non-relational possibility because he can not pass it onto anyone else. But neither can man pass of an ending such as this – for he would cease to be himself. If man does not end, which in this case means leave home (for the hundredth time), he is not the same man.
Why do I keep talking about driving? The car, the Taurus. The Taurus is where I learned to drive, where I’ve had innumerable fun times, where I became “the guy who drives people”. Not the only car, but the most, the first, the “ultimate place of fun” (-Mike Kushnir), friends of wedding transport (Mathias and Kiersten 2008). Also, the car is in a sense the same as Dave’s Taurus (San Fran, Phoenix), although it is different (not red, cleaner oil).
But I was actually driving, not just nolstagiaizing. Here’s the thing – we’re probably selling the old girl, and this might be the last time I drive her back from White Rock. I have done this innumerable times, and realizing that this might be the last one made me appreciate every particularity of the drive. First, there is the way the car drives. This is not a good drivers car, by any stretch of the imagination, but I am quite adept at driving it. It is not a performance engine, but I quite like the induction roar it makes above 3000 rpm, so I let it rev a few times (after properly warm of course). I also like working the shifter – my body knows how long it takes to shift, how to blip the throttle to make it smooth on the 4-2 shift, even the 2-1 shift which it does on its own somewhere around 35km/h as you decelerate if the car was shifted into 2nd using the “L” position. There is nothing objectively special about any of this, they are merely quirks – but like anyone, quirks are part of my life.
Even though the road is straight, coming north on 184th between 16th and 54th avenue, it falls into distinct sections. There are stop sights at 24th, 32nd (now a light actually), but after that it’s a straight shot to 54th. The fastest part of the drive is usually after the connecting road at 40th to 54th – 14 blocks of unblocked 2 lane country road. Every time I drive it it feels like the Mulsanne straight – even though I rarely exceed 75km/h. The fast section ends when you need to slow for the tracks, how much you have to slow differs year to year. Now the tracks are actually marked “30km/h”, although they have been far worse in the past when no such speed limit was in place.
I’m sure other people have drives like this, drives to work or school, drives to a friends house. It’s not only the number of times you drive a route that makes it meaningful, but what you happen to be thinking about on the drive. As we age, the world fills up with meaning – we see it everywhere, attached to the places where we have times. This is what Heidegger means when he says the world is referential – nothing literally “is” itself, everything is through referring, through pointing out something else. When I drive by the Pink Palace hotel on King George highway, it literally has “existence” for me only insofar as it refers to meaningful times (Junior prom, that day Dave and I tried to rent scooters and get into the hotel pool).
White Rock, as a place of times, has been ending for me for many years. Ever since I went to UBC 7 or so years ago, every summer I came home (every summer so far) has felt nostalgic. But how many times can one feel nostalgic for high school? All my friends have left the Rock (except Emily, who has returned! Although I wish she were returning with me)! At some point, the cat dies, they sell the car, your parents move, whatever material connected you with the past is replaced by something with no references, no indications. This feels like a loss at first, because it is – but a loss is also the invitation to imbue those new materials with their own times. New places, new cars, new pets. Clinging to the old is comforting, is perspective-giving (tradition), but also entrapping (repetition) and stifling (reduction, restriction). New experiences, new direction, new motivation – the future. Finding “yourself”, finding “purpose”, finding “why does no matter how that question is posed it sounds cliche?”. Various answers to “Who are you?”.
An Ending, the end of times, is recognizing your old answers to those questions are no longer sufficient – that truth can no longer be remembered, but only invented.