Posted on September 16, 2012
The other day I had made myself a cup of tea and was just crossing the family room when it hit me. I don’t know why, perhaps it was the sun coming through the windows, something that always lends itself to moments of insight, or because I had one of those figurative windows of particular clarity, in which everything seems to click into place momentarily, allowing you to see a pattern, the lie of the land for the next little while. Whatever the reason, I suddenly realised the next two years are going to be a little crazy. When I say realised, I mean realised. Realisation isn’t knowledge, which is something that exists quietly with and within you. Realisation is a bodily sensation, it hits you somewhere you can feel it, somewhere that makes you say , ‘oh, wow!’ out loud. And crossing the family room with a fresh cup of tea in hand, I saw the lie of the land for the next 24 months in all its uppy and downy glory and said, ‘oh wow!’
As things stand now (subject, as everything in life is, to change) I will leave Sydney and return to Germany early next year. SG and I will move to a different German city and live there for six months, before returning south. We will stay down south for another twelve months or so and then move again. Where? I don’t know. Our luxury of choice is limited and preference isn’t 100% guaranteed, but we will pack up and move again, try a 4th city out for size.
Looking ahead, tying up the next 24 months – albeit in an unwieldy fashion with corners poking through the paper – I am brought up short just a four months shy of my 30th birthday. Thirty is my next milestone, so for those older and wiser who have passed it, bear with me, humour me. Walking into my room and sitting at my desk that day, in sunny old Sydney town, thousands of miles and 1200 hours away from life back in Germany, still thinking about the next two years and their roughly mapped out path, I thought, I realised, ‘this is where time goes.’ I know where time goes. It doesn’t fly or crawl, run or stand still. It doesn’t do anything more or less than what it has always promised. It comes and then it disappears, quietly, in increments, in blocks of plans and dates. We have it, then we don’t. We don’t lose it because we have always known it will leave. We made that deal the moment we first drew breath. Time isn’t sly in letting us know how long we have it for, it doesn’t try to cheat us of our stocks. We are just unobservant of it. We let it go un-lived, un-enjoyed or at the very least, unnoticed. We let it pass, not thinking about the last increment sinking that little bit further beneath sea level, because we can still see what’s poking out the top. And that’s fine. As long as something is still poking out the top, we don’t think about what’s quietly, regretfully disappearing.
Time and its light tread is not at fault. We are.
One of the hardest things we have trouble accepting, as a species, is that we cannot lengthen time. We cannot splice minutes, beat the clock, hold it back, although Lord knows we try. And one of the hardest things for me, at this point in my life, split between places, putting something on pause to allow the other parallel part to play for a while, is to not let time go unobserved, unnoticed. To not wish it away, even though I know it is 76 days, 1824 hours until SG arrives in Sydney and even though I know that 40 days after that he will fly to Germany. Even though I know when my birthday is and therefore roughly about what time I will fly back myself, even though I know all these increments like I do my name, address and date of birth, I don’t want to let them go unnoticed.
Because another thing about time. We can’t lengthen it, stop it, hold it back, keep it for any longer than is our due. But we can fatten it up. We can make it bigger. We can outsmart our own perception of time, by, as the old saying goes, accepting its length but living its width.
So even though I can map out the next 24 months, even though I know the location of each key chapter and I find myself trying to work out the headings, I want to make a pact with time, the only pact I can. That we will be aware of each other and I will understand and accept time’s impermanence, no, sorry, my own impermanence. So let’s start with the first increment. 76 days. Let each one of them be plump and observed, whether they crawl, fly or disappear beneath the ocean’s surface with a bittersweet little wave.