Warning: I don’t have anything brilliant to say. I just have a bunch of feelings bubbling up within the 24 hour countdown to President-elect Biden’s inauguration. And I haven’t gotten political here for years, and I find these topics so complex and my time so limited I can’t express them fully here, so I’d prefer to not half-ass it. So I want to talk about one specific angle of this moment:
A theme of the last year has certainly been time. Time moves slow; a day feels like week. This pandemic has been going on since 2019, which was what, half a decade ago? We pass the time at home, we pass the time in lockdowns, we pass the time not doing what we want, not seeing people we want. Our commutes have vanished, hours each week restored to personal choice. Our roots grow out as we hold out for hair appointments. Time feels awkward now. There’s a new appreciation or disdain for time, what it means, how it feels, what it does to us.
But let’s go further back. To four years ago.
I remember sitting at the office kitchen table, the day after President Trump’s election in 2016. I remember holding back tears all day; the main thought on my mind at that hour was everyone around me celebrating while I was terrified my brother’s marriage license and rights could be revoked in the next four years. I was hyper-focused on this one thing for some reason, maybe because it was a distraction from a bunch of other fears: Reproductive rights. Foreign relationships. Race relations. The future of Israel.
And I remember the rest of the day, the week, the month, walking around in a daze thinking – four years? Four years of this?
Four years seemed impossible. So much had already been laid out in just a few months. What kind of national, global damage could we sustain with four years ahead? How could we possibly survive that?
And here we are, four years later, and in terms of sheer numbers, indeed, most of us survived, physically. I can look back on four whole years from that day when it seemed impossible to come out of this with morality, ethics intact. I didn’t believe we’d even get to a full four years of this. I remember in year two wondering how this president was still standing. Then in year four, I actually forgot it was due for an ending… because the universe had other plans, and we had new fears, and one year actually felt like four.
So what have I learned about time?
It passes, and whether we are experiencing drama, pain, struggle, success, elation, winning – it passes. We don’t have any choice about that. Everyone put one foot in front of the other and passed through four years, whatever we felt or thought. Everyone here now, everyone in the past. History is built on the footsteps of people passing through time. Making choices. Breathing per second. Moving along. Moving on.
And here, I did it too. I’ve been doing it since I was born. And now I can really see that.
In front of me I see a really blurry period of time; I can’t really say ‘what will be in a year, two, four’. Everything feels uncertain, and time isn’t as outlined. But it’s there. And it keeps going.
I wouldn’t say modern society ‘learning to live in the moment’ is a benefit of the pandemic; it’s a fact of life. We’ve been doing it since the beginning. Perhaps the correct conclusion is that I’m more aware that I live in the moment, whether I like the moment or not.
And sometimes it’s overly simple to string together many moments as four-year increments. Maybe it’s a coping mechanism. Likely it’s just convenience.
Anyway… it’s been a hell of a time. See you in the next moment. And the next.