Vega Through Time, Space and Place
by Alexa Fariña
21 years could be described as double the life expectancy of your average dog, or rather, and more optimistically 21 could equate to the human years of a three year old dog. I have here made use of the most commonly applied and overly simplified mathematical equation to convert from human to canine years by simply multiplying the age by seven (3 x 7 = 21). There are, however, numerous far more accurate equations available online for other pseudo-science fanatics.
21 years is half of my documented age and strangely enough double what I suspect the age of my life skills to be. Tax, house work, grocery shopping and social etiquette skills still evade me to this day. Coincidentally, my heartfelt age of ten and a half is exactly one year more than my Vega lifespan and half of Vega’s total life span to date. Vega School, you see, has come of age - Vega has turned 21!
Time is an opaque, murky mix of a concept, a black hole swirling with numerical, metaphysical and subjective contradictions. I am unsure of what 21 years of existence actually means, feeling regretfully ill-equipped to visualise 21 years as an abstract scientific concept and completely unable to comprehend, define or fix the bodily perception attached to 21 years of passing time. Time, is a straightforward measurable unit and simultaneously an incomprehensible metaphysical concept – an uncountable entity, like milk, water and sky. As layered in meaning and difficult to grasp as the related concepts of space and place.
The concept of place can be defined simply as a point on a map, a specific geographic location that can be differentiated with certainty from the surrounding space. Similarly, time is the logical, seemingly absolute system used on a daily basis to order, measure and explain the past, present and future happenings of life. However, on further inspection it becomes uncomfortably apparent that place, space and time, are as complex and layered in meaning as they are simple.
The never ending complexity of space, place and time, are at once everything and nothing at all. Forming the fabric and substance of our very existence yet the reason I can’t define existence from incomprehensible nothingness. Time ensures that each nanosecond of existence in place dissolves instantaneously into the perpetual nothingness of space.
Despite my metaphysical leanings, I do acknowledge and accept time as a logical, linear system used to measure and explain the motion of sequential events. Units of time, after all, are not derived on a social whim but are rather built on astute human observation and rational inquiry. Linked with logic to planetary pathways and recurrent mechanisms of the natural world.
1 year equals to approximately 365.25 days, for matters of convenience we measure a day as one unit of a calendar year. A calendar, a tool to aid in and ensure cognitive dissonance is obtained, the tactility of paper, a pretty picture and a defined block in which to create order with a ball point pen is surely a cleverly crafted cognitive distraction. An embodiment of time to protect us from any unsettling, intrusive thoughts of our fleeting transience in outer space.
Earth takes approximately 365 days to travel around the Sun. The Moon takes 24 hours to circle the Earth. This strange and interesting thought brings new meaning to the ignored, outdated calendar on my desk. It would appear that my 2018 calendar, sadly, never got flipped past April – the month of Autumn. Life would become monotonous here, if Earth failed to tilt this way and that, ensuring the timeliness of admittedly mild (South African) seasonal changes.
I have lived through 168 seasons in my life, not all of them mild, as not all were spent at this geographic location. Vega has experienced 84 mild seasonal changes while orbiting the sun - a remarkable 21 times! Gaining steadily in matter, mass and size with each revolution completed. Reaching notable points of necessary division to enable further expansion, all the while maintaining perfect balance, speed and velocity. As a side note - I believe, that in order for cell division to occur, even just once, conditions need to function at a premium for an extended period of time.
Maintaining conditions suitable for division and growth, while orbiting a burning sphere in outer space, attached precariously to the surface of the Earth is a most impressive feat in and of itself. Add to this the fact that the geographical point of earthly attachment is a place notoriously marked by instability, economic struggle and social disgrace and the gravitas of the achievement becomes apparent.
It is this rare continuance of Vega space, maintaining growth in defined place, that has afforded me a favourable personal chance. An unexpected opportunity to explore my subjective perception of both time and space in the context of a dynamic, familiar geographical place.
My subjective experience of time is that it is without logic, born only of emotion and shaped by the intensity thereof. The time I know, is an uncountable entity, a malevolent and malleable shape shifter. My time flows like water and spreads like fire, it is not linear or countable like the bricks that make a wall and then a house. It is in the habit of slowing down and stretching endlessly out before me. This it chooses to do when life becomes dull, a difficult struggle or simply not much fun. My time is a trickster, a narcissistic joker, fond of accelerating in speed when life is good, when I am happy or finding meaning in the flow. My time is that controlling, sadistic best friend that I wish I never had.
My time made my school career last 50 years, University rushed by me in just under a day, and then, my first job hit me with another 50 and some years. During what was actually only a single calendar year, my time held me captive in a small and conforming cage. I was sad, unmotivated and trapped, in this way, for an uncountable dragged out eternity spanning over 50 years.
It was my own fault really, I was bored by the job, uninspired by the space and suffocating in the stench of my own insecure pretence. An ill fit to say the least. I sat like a lady, dressed like a professional and tried to appear on top of my game. I spoke calmly with maturity in a polite and obedient way, minimising interests that could be considered obscure, strange or bizarre. I strived to be stock standard, a multitasker and a speed reader, efficiently mediocre in every way. I read into the expressions of co-workers, searching and scanning their faces for a hidden sign that I had been seen. Identified as Freak - one incapable of living the suburban dream.
If this was adult life, I just couldn’t do it. I decided instead to escape. I could no longer keep up my futile attempts to belong in a repressive heteronormative space. A space where I was expected to fit and feel completely in my given place.
I moved to Asia for six years (real time – not my time). I found a life free of suffocating expectation, a place where I could feel less and be more. I floated alone in undefined, gentle, never ending liminal space. Bound neither to person nor place. Time, regained its motion. Interrupted only on occasion by a familiar nagging voice, a hot mouthy whisper that asked “what is your purpose?”.
The voice would return with Christmas, making loud accusations about emptiness, wasted time, neglected family and lost vocational purpose. I shared my hidden whisper with a close friend. As luck would have it my friend had a friend, a non-conformist by nature, who worked at a school named Vega. Vega she said was a forward thinking space that offered a place for the creative, uncaged and gender free to authentically be.
I listened to my gut and the chaos parted way to reveal my own clear celestial pathway. I found myself sitting on a red Vega sofa. Awe struck and motionless, I stared at the two, asking interview questions opposite me. Intelligent and inspirational women – this was the place I desperately needed to be.
Nine and a half years later and I am still spinning around the sun with Vega. My grounded continuation in place I attribute to the never static nor dull Vega space. A visionary space reflective of its founders. A space not shackled by the limitations of geographic place nor the flawed confines of linear time. What the founders envisioned was ahead of its time, a forward thinking liminal space to awaken young minds.
Vega now mature, sits self-affirmed and secure on the number 21. Conditions are good and Vega is bursting – waiting again to divide and expand. The journey now unstoppable, continuous and strong. A rare continuance of creative, free thinking Vega space has offered me an unexpected personal opportunity to prosper in place. I have been given a freak chance, thrown a bone. An accepting, forward thinking space to be never bored nor alone. My whisper has been successfully silenced. However, life is never perfect and a pest of a problem remains. My sadistic friend time has moved in a little closer. Inspired, I think, by my fortunate find. My time has sped up, faster and faster. My beautiful big dog will turn 10 next March. This makes my big dog 70 dog years in advance. And that, fellow travellers, for a dog, unlike for an educational institution, is definitely sitting on the wrong side of 21.