When I was a kid, my mother saw the world in twenty-four hour shifts. She measured everything that happened to us in lengths of days, with here and there mentions of minutes and seconds. “One day at a time.” And, of course, always the opposite: I saw the world in shifts of small eternities. It was my thing.
I could never understand the concept of years; I told people everywhere I went I was age eleven for about five years of my childhood (my mother following behind me, hastily cleaning up my answers with her own more correct versions of the truth). I could fit a billion events into one day; I could daydream for a half-hour and have visited each continent twice; I could trace all the cracks in the sidewalk outside my house and still have time to count the dandelions in my neighbor’s garden.
When it was time for sleep, I welcomed it, my arms carefully wrapped around my most favorite stuffed puppy dog. In my dreams there were superheroes, epic wars that only I could win, best friends I could never quite find in the waking world, and best of all there was a total absence of clocks.
I began to hate time, and the way it aged everyone around me. Each birthday I was a little less cute and a little more adolescent. My mother’s eyes grew more tired and sunken, and soon she was having two cups of coffee in the morning instead of one. A tthe young-ish age of eleven-ish, I had the sneaking suspicion something terrible was happening.
I began to hate sleep. No longer could I depend on my subconscious to take me away into my world of fantastical adventures and escapes. My mother’s coffee intake multiplied ceaselessly–it seemed, at least. But no matter how many times I was forced to count my life in days–to jot things down in the calendar–to move appointments to other days because I’d run out of time–to realize days were not infinite: I never got used to it.
Now I’m twenty-two–definitely twenty-two, no question about it–and I’m ending one of those days where you just don’t know where the time went. I wish my knowledge of the concept of time would fly out the window and never come back.
The phrase: 24/7. It’s ugly; it makes you close your mouth and snap it open and add all these weird ticking sounds and hard biting motions with your lips. I hate it.
And the meaning? The meaning of 24/7 makes you time yourself. It makes you limit your life to the rule: there are only 24 hours in a day, and 7 days in a week. The problem is: when you begin to time yourself, you begin to think of your time as precious–as super-precious. And then, if you’re not very careful, you’ll start to think you’re wasting time.
And you’ll get to the end of a day like this one: a day full of people watching, full of one short shift at work, full of sitting in your car listening to music, full of food and drinks, full of waking up and going back to sleep, full of all of the other small infinities that moments have to offer us–and you’ll think it was wasted.
If there was any opportunity I didn’t take advantage of today, it’s that I didn’t take the time to count the cracks in a sidewalk, or the dandelions in a garden; it was the opportunity to measure my life in something other than time; it was the opportunity to see the tiny eternities in every moment.
It was the opportunity to take and make my own time, whenever possible.