For something without hands, time is remarkably good at strangling. If anything, this year has taught me that. I have felt the suffocating hands of time pressing down harder and harder on the different aspects of my life as the months have passed in this year. And I have come to the conclusion that no matter how much time passes, I don’t think I will ever be comfortable with it.
I am haunted by the idea of time. As a junior in college, I am constantly aware that there are always things I should be doing. There are always new things expected of me. It seems like the older I get, the more things I am expected to do–and even worse, the more things I am expected to know how to do–never stop growing. This is not to say that I hope to spend my entire life as a hermit ignoring any responsibilities and refusing to be a functioning member of society. But I cannot shake the feeling that as time progresses, I become less and less welcoming of its influence and the power it holds over my life.
But I cannot escape time. In school, deadlines are everything. I am always counting down to something. And no matter what, I always feel like I am wasting time. I honestly forget sometimes that I am a human being, and that time is just a construct. It’s immaterial. It only has the power that we have given it (and we have given it far too much, in my opinion.)
With every day that goes by, I am more and more aware of the expectations placed on me to get a job, move out, make money, and make something of myself. It is suffocating. We judge our value as people based on how we react to deadlines and age. I find myself measuring my proximity to “the future” by the people around me. Two of my best friends are graduating from their colleges this year; watching them being launched into the “real world” has only increased my anxieties.
I see them, and something in my head whispers, “Get yourself together, girl. There’s not much time left, and you haven’t made anything of yourself.” And I ask, why? Why does it have to be this way? I never allow myself a moment of rest, or any congratulations for the things I have accomplished—even the little things. If I spend even a minuscule amount of time on something that makes me happy, like playing a video game, I chide myself for it afterwards. I have wasted valuable time on something that will not foreseeably affect my future. And even if I do spend time on something “worthwhile,” like, finishing an essay, even that doesn’t deserve praise. Because there is always more to do.
Anyone can see that this is no way to live. Human beings are not meant to be born, work, work, work, and die. And I strongly believe that it is our collective attitude towards time that has made us this way.
I for one will not sit down and let time jerk me around like some puppet on strings. I know that there is value in the passions and joys of human beings, and that if we let ourselves only live deadline to deadline, assignment to assignment, then we cannot even call ourselves living.
I can explain this feeling best in the words of the wise C. S. Lewis:
“Notice how we are perpetually surprised at Time. (‘How time flies! Fancy John being grown-up and married! I can hardly believe it!’) In heaven’s name, why? Unless, indeed, there is something in us which is not temporal.”
There is something at the core of every human being that is not bound by chains of time. There is more to us than just these fragile and rapidly decaying vessels we call bodies. We cannot keep them forever, no matter how many anti-aging creams we buy at the drugstore (my apologies to Olay and all other brands like it that thrive off this illusion). But there is one thing that we can keep. When every grain of sand has run out, when every minute has passed and there is no more time left to hold us down, our souls will be the only parts of us that remain. Our souls will be the only things we take with us. They are worth fortifying. And I intend to treat mine well.
To read more of Carly’s words, check out her blog and twitter account!