A preoccupation with the strange-ness of time

STEEPED BY SAMIA #15 | 01.06.23
A tale for the time being, Majora’s mask, & the inexplicable pace of time.

I’ve been preoccupied with the concept of time this week. Slipping from the end of one year, to the beginning of the next, life is literally the same — but with the freshness and promise that the New Year brings.

Time has felt strange lately. Lately, meaning, the past 2 to 3 years. I can’t quite describe what it is, but something feels off. As the pandemic lingers on, this strange-ness has become more pronounced. Do you feel it, too?

I was 21 at the start of the pandemic, and I will be 25 in a few months (“Sign of the time!” my Abu would say). Our early to mid 20’s, I figure, are supposed to feel uncertain, exciting, weird, adventurous, and pointedly unsatisfying. We lose and find ourselves; gaining layers of fortitude, intuition, confidence, and intention. Looking back, I see shades of all this in my 20’s, but it’s coated with a layer of existential dread.

I can see why I feel this way; with the world being the way it is. So many of us have been spending more time at home these past two years, in the company of our own thoughts. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. But I guess it’s sinking in that life has lost some of its charm; and I can’t really get that back.

When time feels especially weird, I dive into books and media to seek some answers.

To start off my reading in 2023, I wanted to revisit my personal library.

One of my favorite book covers!

I hadn’t read A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki in a while (one of Ferheen’s all-time fave book!), and it somehow felt like the right time to pick it up again.

A Tale for the Time Being flips between two perspectives: Nao, in the recent-ish past, who chronicles her great grandmother Jiko’s fascinating life in a diary and her own fraught experiences as a teenager living in Japan; and Ruth in the present, a writer who lives on a remote island and found Nao’s diary washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunch box. [Book content TW: suicidal ideation, bullying]

I love the play on words with the title: ‘for the time being’ as in ‘the present’ and a ‘time being’ explained here by Nao:

“I am a time being. Do you know what a time being is? Well, if you give me a moment, I will tell you. A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.”

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

What’s so compelling about this book is its rhythmic philosophies on life and its shimmering atmosphere. How time can move at an unhurried and urgent pace (Nao’s plotline), or at a sprawling and lurching pace (Ruth’s plotline). It explores the immediacy of our circumstances and day-to-day lives, and a tinge of something grander at work in the universe.

During this stormy week, the Clock Town song from Majora’s Mask is stuck in my head.

The Happy Mask Salesman in Majora’s Mask

Majora’s Mask (2000) is my favorite Legend of Zelda game. The premise: In three days, on the night of the Carnival of Time, the moon will crash into Clock Town. Link must use the Ocarina of Time to relive these three days over and over until he is able to save the town — and the world? — from this terrible fate.

Majora’s Mask is rife with duality: Hopelessness / Hope. Futility / Purpose. Anticipatory Grief / Acceptance. Greed / Selflessness. Love / Loss.

The game is designed to make you feel like you are running out of time. Over the three days, the music gets increasingly faster and the moon inches closer to the Earth, causing earthquakes that rumble your controller. I feel a little anxious just thinking about it!

My siblings and I would often spend our school breaks playing adventure video games. Legend of Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, Kingdom Hearts, Okami. To be fair, Sufyan would play the game, and Ferheen and I would watch and make suggestions here & there, lol. In front of the living room TV, with plenty of snacks, time felt carefree and sprawling. Like looking out the window during a seemingly endless train ride; meadows morphing into arid land, hills shifting into water.

The language of Time becomes clearer as we get older.

I’ve been paying attention to the glimpses of memories & dreams that come up in my day-to-day routines: Millisecond moments that surface on their own volition and transport me to a different place & atmosphere. Sometimes, they feel like memories that have bled into dreams; and other times, they’re dreams that have been with me for so long, they feel like memories.

Watching Watchmen (2019) and working on a puzzle with Safa, Ferheen, & Sufyan (a memory). The festival in my backyard with bright orange tents and an ice cream buffet (a dream). Going to the San Jose flea market and getting watermelon-shaped hand-held fans (a memory). The Sephora and library inside a Victorian mansion at the edge of the park (a dream).

The writer part of me secretly muses that these flashes are different versions of me across time and parallel universes. They’re gently nudging me to keep going; reminding me that certain seasons in life are temporary. —S.A.

Steep On This:  

Catch Up:  

12.29.22 | Will I always be in a liminal space?

STEEPED BY SAMIA #14: A rainy morning, a wallower, & an interior monologue on in-betweenness.

About This Blog:

Steeped by Samia is a space where I can simmer on thoughts & curiosities in the scope of digital culture, creativity, life, & more. Far too often, my writing ideas fizzle out in energy; I never get to see them to their full potential. While building my rhythm with writing, I want to share these ideas with you. 

Stay Up-To-Date on my blog by clicking the ‘follow’ button at the bottom of the page, and you will receive an email every time I post. I aim to post a new installment at least once or twice a month. Thank you for supporting my storytelling!🧡


  1. Fanna says:

    Loved reading this post! Especially this sentence: “Sometimes, they feel like memories that have bled into dreams; and other times, they’re dreams that have been with me for so long, they feel like memories.” Will definitely check out the book.


    1. samiaabbasi says:

      Thanks so much, Fanna!


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