Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a stickler for time. I find that people often overlook how important, complicated and abstract the concept of time is. It seems to fly by when we’re having fun, slow down when things get difficult and it can be so subtle that we only notice it when it has already passed. Whether you believe that absolute time and space are real or that time is just an idealist concept, an ongoing point of reference, the universally accepted truth about time is that it makes up our lives and we have little control over it.
A picture popped up on my Timehop on my birthday, it read “One year ago today.”
I can still remember how exhausted I was from a night of no sleep, how only one out of the six pictures turned out right and how nearly perfect that weekend was. It sounds cliché but it really does seem like just yesterday, except looking back at it so much has changed. This time last year, I was deep in my quarter-life crisis. I constantly felt like I was running out of time so for the first few months of 25, I was determined to go everywhere and do everything.
Did I accomplish everything that I wanted? No, a lot of it is still work in progress. I did, however, make it to Europe, twice in fact. After years of talking about it, I finally took my dream trip to Tomorrowland and spent some time discovering Europe afterward (more blog posts to come on this, I promise).
When I tell people about Europe I always say that: Brussels surprised me, Brugge is the cutest place, Barcelona was my favourite, La Sagrada Familia stunned me speechless, Venice was lovely and that I wish I could spend everyday eating fresh gelato. But some of the most unforgettable moments of my trip are honestly not much to talk about. They never made it on to my Snap Story and they’re not Instagram-worthy but they made all the difference.
There was this one particular night in Brussels, I had an inebriated heart-to-heart in an impasse. If I had to pinpoint the moment I got over my quarter-life crisis, that would be it. To the crowd around us, it would’ve appeared to be a trivial scene but I’ve never been more emotionally invested in a conversation. It left me feeling…vulnerable, a feeling that I’m not familiar with but at the time, also not unfavourable of. That sui generis conversation made me realize that between trying to catch flights and catch up with life, I was forgetting to actually live and appreciate the little things.
It was that talk and this second trip to Europe that I helped me to understand the European way of life. I sat down three times a day to have hour-long meals instead of catching a quick bite to eat. I took my time and strolled around the city instead of just trying to get from point A to point B. I fell in love with the aroma of freshly brewed coffee again because of the lack of to-go cups. I shamelessly spent countless hours in bookstores. I slowed down and smelled the proverbial roses and it was…nice.
Post-vacation, there are times when I get caught up in deadline and I still feel like I’m running out of time. I notice the seconds turning into minutes, the minutes into hours and hours turning into days. But maybe time won’t seem so finite if we simply stop thinking about it as just a quantifiable measurement with milestones that mark our progress.
Maybe we should start determining time by moments. The moments when the ticking of the clock were irrelevant, the moments that turn into a memories. You know, the nights when you stayed up too late and said too much, the lunches that end up being 4 hour conversations, the moment that all of main stage lit up when Martin Garrix played Gold Skies. Maybe these seemingly small, fleeting moments are what really matter, not the typical milestone and markers of success.