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Time is Just a Construct

Time has always eluded me. It is simply a construct used to mark moments passing by, yet people are fascinated by it, myself included; every birthday is a celebration of another year of life. Some are obsessed with mortality, the longevity of life. I am baffled by the idea that time is consistent, a hard cold fact. Seconds tick away rhythmically, never speeding up or slowing down. However, our minds can warp our sense of time, turn it into something abstract.

Sometimes I feel time moves crazy fast and other times wicked slow. I look back and cannot believe my gap year adventure is coming to an end; where has the time gone? Just yesterday it was September, and I was off to Chile for my NOLS course. Yet at the same time, these last two weeks in Kyrgyzstan have felt like years. I count down every day, excited to return home after a long, busy year. As Zack would say, I have become the horse in the stable, gathering speed as the sight of the barn enters its line of vision. I don’t like this. I don’t want it to be like this. But it’s hard.

Caught between the past and the future, it can be difficult to stay present. I am trying my best.

Here is what I have found helpful when trying to bring myself back to the present:

  1. Metacognition, or awareness of your thoughts. Recognizing that your thoughts are constantly straying to past or future moments. You should not necessarily push these thoughts away, that is not effective. Become aware of them, observe them. I realize that I have been dwelling in the past and worrying about the future.
  2. Remembering where you are and finding the good in your current situation. I’m in frickin’ Kyrgyzstan! Who thought I’d ever get the chance to be here! Who knows if I will ever have the chance to come back here. Who knows if and when I will get to see the wonderful people I have encountered here again.
  3. Gratitude. Appreciate the opportunities you receive, the people in your life who love and care for you. Count your blessings. Realize how lucky you are to be in the place you are in right now. I feel so fortunate to have had the experiences I’ve had. I am loved by so many people; my friends and family are always there for me and want the best for me. My gap year would not have been possible without the support of my wonderful parents.
  4. Meditation. Taking a moment to slow down time on your own accord and become aware of your thoughts and surroundings. Become grounded. After spending time in Nepal and China and learning more about Buddhism, I have incorporated yoga and meditation into my daily routine and have become a better person for it. Meditation has created the space for me to practice mindfulness and gratitude.

Time is elusive, complex, enigmatic. Sometimes it is difficult to understand. However, rather than trying to unravel its complexities, I find it more productive to accept it for what it is and embrace the right here and now.