When we’re young, it’s easy to lose ourselves in time. We believe we have enough words to say and enough opportunities to say them. We only think about the future in grand scales of “I’ll be this” or “I’ll do that.” We don’t think about what we say. We don’t think about doling out extra hugs and kisses to those we love. We assume they’re going to live forever. We just don’t understand. We wait for the perfect time to start something. We figure that what we put off today, we can do tomorrow. We always believe there’s enough time.
And then, before we know it, we’re moving out of our childhood homes. We’re starting careers, having families. We lose the ones we love. First, a grandmother. Then, an aunt. It always hits us completely out of the blue. They’re there one day, gone the next. And we always say, “But, I thought I had more time.”
Some philosophers argue that time is linear measure of events, scoping the berth of our past, present, and future. It’s another dimension that we can chart out and sequence. This time is chronological; it helps us understand causes and consequences. It helps us make sense of the world around us.
Other philosophers argue that time is neither an event nor a thing; it cannot be measured or explained. This time gives no comfort; it offers no explanation. Things simply are.
We try to track time, capture it in hourglasses or brilliant designed watch faces. We try to hold it, grasp it, make it something we can control. Something we can plan our lives around. We trace our lives in years, months, weeks, days, hours, minutes, seconds. We categorise our moments into precise and accurate time frames. She gave birth at 4:05 in the morning. He died at 10:15 at night. One second, here. Another, gone.
The playground bleeds into middle school hallways, warps into high school lockers, shifts into college dormitories. We’re constantly moving, growing, without looking at where we are. We don’t realise what we’ve done until it’s retrospect. It’s always easier to see our path when it’s laid out behind us, our footsteps already pressed into its soil. And then, we try to remember. What our grandmother’s laugh sounded like. How it felt to hug our childhood friend. The joy at waiting in line at midnight to pick up our favourite book or movie at its release party. The summers in the pool, the taste of watermelon and cotton candy on our tongues.
Sometimes, I wonder if what I remember is correct. I wonder how long my memories will last. I try to remind myself of the simple details as often as I can, so I don’t lose them. I picture them as fireflies dancing in a jar, just waiting to escape into the night sky. Because, if I don’t, what do I chance forgetting? Who will remember then? Will it even have mattered?
I suppose all of this stems from the fact that my life is about to change. Drastically. I won’t be able to see any of my familiar childhood places anymore. At least not for a while. I won’t drive past the plot of land where my aunt sold fresh fruit and vegetables every summer for years. I won’t see my old schools, all of which helped shape me into who I am today, no matter how miserable they may have made me at the time. I won’t run into anyone I know from my past in any of the stores I go in. I won’t have anything save what I remember and what I have captured in photographs. And, I wonder if it’s enough. I wonder how much I’ve taken the time to remember. What has already been forgotten, released back into the ether? Would I feel more comfortable, more ready, if I had taken more moments to reflect on my surroundings?
Probably not. I think, in a way, we’re only supposed to come upon our realisations in retrospect. It means we’ve been actually living. It means that time and all of its variables lie completely outside of our reach. We can never catch it. That’s why we try to hold onto it so much. In a way, that comforts me.
I don’t know what’s to come, though I’ve planned for a couple of different versions. I don’t know how much time I have left. I’ll always wish I had more of it. I’ll always wonder what I could have done with more time. I’ll always wait for it. I guess, in this sense, I’ll never learn.