Time is a cyclone into which we are abruptly cast, and we find ourselves stuck circling aimlessly within its disorienting grip
In the realm of optical illusions as well as the realm of hypnosis, spirals have long been a catalyst for disorientation. Whether it be the spirals spinning in the eyes of Tom and Jerry after getting knocked over the head, or the spiral imagery in Hitchcock’s Vertigo, the concept is often associated with a change in perception. When considering the journey of life, it is necessary to consider time as a spiral—picking up momentum, moving quicker with each passing moment. Likewise, as the circular motion narrows down toward the center, the journey is continuous; it does not end or restart, but rather, adapts, changes and persists over time. Through studying the cyclical nature of a spiral, although a seemingly disorienting illusion of sorts, we can begin to analyze the journey of life with relation to time.
Naturally, the Earth rotates in a circular motion around the sun, along with the rest of the planets in our solar system. Time is simultaneously cyclical, corresponding with our path of life. Our day-to-day life is a constant, infinite cycle where productivity typically begins as the sun rises and starts to decrease with the setting of the sun. Nature has its own way of giving us an understanding of time, through cycles and spirals of rotation. Life itself is a spiral. The passing of time unravels the path through which we descend each passing: hour, day, week, month, and year. Time does not allow us to simply skip through, or “fast-forward,” moments of our life; we must live through all of it—experiencing every step we take in our labyrinth of life. The “labyrinth” features of the spiral lie in the fact that there is one way in and out, but the monotony of our everyday lives demands to be lived through as we follow along the path to the center, which in this case is death. This image of time may make us feel helpless in our own lives; whether you wish for it or not, you—at least once—must experience every moment of your life.
Beyond the movement with regard to time cycles (days, months, years), spirals also represent time through the comparison of their physical structure to the mathematical structure of life. Toward the center of a spiral, the circling path engulfs smaller versions of itself, while still echoing the same pattern. The first rounding (the outermost line) of the spiral is larger and therefore takes longer to navigate than, say, the fifth inward rounding (the fifth line in) of the same spiral. Similarly, the later years of someone’s life pass by quicker than the years prior, comparatively. Consider this: during an infant’s first year of life, each day is greater than 1/400th of their life, whereas at five years old, each day accounts to less than 1/1800th of their life. With that being said, spirals represent time in relation to human life due to the exponentially decreasing cycles; although the overarching path is getting longer, the patterns drawn by the path grow smaller. Days do not literally get shorter as time goes on—regardless of age—but they feel shorter because when relativity is taken into account, they are shorter. After all, time is relative.
Take the idea of time and picture it as a spiral, a seemingly never-ending cone-like labyrinth. Time is constantly deceiving you, seeming to slip away at an accelerating pace as months pass. The birthdays approach faster, the years feel shorter, but what if they are? What if in this life, you’re falling forward in a spiral of time, deceivingly speeding up as life “rushes” past. Time is a deceptor, a lying narrator who distorts the entire story; time cannot fully be trusted. Time is not simply a past, present, and future, but rather, an infinite amount of circumstances living across the comembrum of life. Time is a run-on sentence, overflowing to the next pages, seemingly without an end. In the book of life, time exists on its pages, and lives in our minds as memories, although you may not recollect them all the time was spent, and the memories still exist, somewhere, some time.
The labyrinthine spiral of time will continue to perplex the human mind long after our lives are through, as our comprehension of time is limited through our relative scope of human consciousness. After all, just as the spiral form is utilized heavily in the field of optical illusions—which are most commonly accomplished by playing with perspective and disorientation—time itself is a subjective illusion.