We think Time is objective. Like it’s in the same family as teaspoons and algebra. But anyone who has a pulse knows this isn’t true. Our hearts beat every second. And because we can look at flowering purple trees and know they’re beautiful, we also know that Sunday has a heaviness, while Friday feels light. That time drags at the DMV and stands still on vacation. September isn’t just September. It’s a reddening of leaves, the Twin Towers, and the month they’ll start trying to get pregnant.
It’s the middle of the year. For me, four years out of college. Ten years since my driver’s license. A little more than halfway to fifty. I don’t say it like it’s a bad thing.
It’s just crazy to think about. Like, we’re all these different people. The Fair is almost over, for instance, and I can remember all the other people I was at that Fair. A first grader losing the radish contest (I had the worst radish). Standing next to my first crush ever in a cow stall, with my hand wrapped around an udder. I remember riding elephants with my step-grandfather, who isn’t on this planet anymore.
I tend to put my years on scales, and say, “Okay. What did you do? How well did you do it?” And even though I do this, I’m not an A type. I eat dairy and wear a size 6. But we all have this natural drive and desire to be the best we can. Abraham Maslow called it self-actualization. He defined it as, “the full use and exploitation of talents, capacities, potentialities, etc.” But to be self-actualized, you need to get a handle on a lot of different things first.
You need to cross your t’s and dot your i’s. You need to be rollin’ in some kind of dough, have a stable home, and happy, fulfilling relationships. So basically, you need to have your s*&% together, before you can start really kicking ass and taking over the world.
And as much as I want to be a good writer, I also want to have it all. In addition to the trophies and jet-setting, we need love and safety. We need friendships, security, new experiences and joy. And it’s summer, which means it’s halfway through the year. This makes me reflective about my values. How I’m spending my moments.
Self-actualized people, Maslow says, are less emotional and more objective. They’re dedicated to a cause or vocation. Some characteristics they share are spontaneity, gratitude, resourcefulness, creativity, courage and hard work.
On Monday morning, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. and went surfing. As I tip toed out on the reef, I could see sea anemones clinging to the edges of the rock, and I fell in a hole and cut my foot, which happens pretty often. I have scars all over my feet from the little nicks and cuts. In that moment, there was enough space in my head for me to think, “This is you. Capable, amazing you.”
Like wonder. Like, if you cut your moment down the middle. Gave it an autopsy. Really gutted it. You’d remember that right now, a bride-to-be is sealing wedding invitations. People are falling in love, and signing adoption papers, and taking photos at the top of the Eiffle Tower. You’d remember that you can do these things. You can sip a cappuccino in a Berlin cafe while thumbing through German newspapers. You can walk down the aisle, towards someone who knows you inside and out, and loves it all. No exceptions. You can remember then, that your life is poetry. And you’re part of a great world spinning.
And you have all these amazing things at your disposal. Like music. What’s your favorite love song? Mine is the Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody.” You can listen to Weezer and remember standing on the black top during your awkward years.
You can eat glazed donuts or do a juice cleanse (but why would you). You can touch your girlfriend’s face with an open palm, and if you break up, she’ll forget the feeling. But right now, you’re there. And, right now, you have her. You can feel the sand under your feet. Be rendered speechless by Machu Piccu. Smell candles burning.
Since I’m a writer, there’s a lot of uncertainty in my life. But there’s also this world of possibilities that never existed before. And we’re alive. And though we sort of know this, we should remember, every single day, that time is precious. We can’t do any of this over. It’s as much a reminder to myself as it is to you.