September’s almost over: my first assignment for second year is almost due, I am settling into my new job, classes are starting to fill themselves with familiar faces, and my room is slowly transforming into an organized mess. And I find myself stuck here, trying to slow the tide as it rushes in. It feels as though everything is moving far too quickly around me yet I am just starting to get my bearing. Where did all the time go between moving that first box into my dorm and now, four weeks later?
I have always been perplexed by the concept of “now”. This probably has something to do with how I fill my head with daydreams and giant fantasies of how my life will one day be. And the thing is, there are little steps and goals that I have attained, but it doesn’t have the same electricity to it that I often imagine. Life, in its present moment, never feels quite like how you imagined it. Or at least it doesn’t for me.
There’s a different kind of beauty to the present. It’s much calmer, mainly because instead of this imagined reality of excitement and feeling, you are caught with all the little actions as well. You experience every single step to class and the long minutes spent waiting for a bus and the lulls in conversations. As silly as it sounds, I often forget that life has more to it than what sticks in my memory. (What do you mean I have to wait for the water to boil or the play to start? How rude of my computer to take longer than a minute to boot up!)
A few weeks ago I was at team training for my job and as part of an exercise I ended up breaking down how I spend all my time. Here’s the thing: even though I always feel busy, when I wrote out all the things I do in a week, I seemed to have an abundance of time at my disposal. And I couldn’t quite figure out why.
My problem is that I just don’t think about the little ways I use my time: silly conversations with friends on facebook, phone calls with my parents, cleaning and organizing files and folders and clothes, or simply letting myself lay down, cozy in my bed, as I wake up in the morning. And as much as I want to chastise myself for wasting time on useless websites or just staring at the ceiling because I don’t want to do my readings, I don’t think I’d change how I’ve used my time all that much… unless I could take back some of the Netflix binges. That would be nice.
The point is that no matter how effectively I use my time, or how quickly I move from task to task, the present will never be how I imagined or anticipated it to be. So really, why should I try to live up to those unreachable expectations I set for myself? It’s been about a month since school started and I’ve been more or less keeping up with my courses, I’ve spent some good time with quality friends, I’ve worked, I’ve volunteered, I’ve explored, and I’ve been happy. What more can I ask for?
The answer is this: not much. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by how fast the world seems to move while I continue to add tasks to my “to do” list. But life’s like this: you keep doing things and prioritizing and living, then relaxing when you can, and as long as you enjoy it, so what if you’re not getting everything perfect? I hope that’s what it means to grow up, realizing that you don’t have to have your life together to be relaxed and happy. Because there are so many things to do, but I can’t help but enjoy sitting at my computer, feet on my desk while I eat homemade soup that took me an hour to make. I’ve decided to let things slow down sometimes, and I encourage you to as well.