‘I don’t know where the time has gone.’
‘The year is going so fast.’
‘Can you believe it’s a new month already?’
Do you ever feel like time just disappears? One minute it’s the start of the week and you’re wondering when you’ll get a day off. The next minute, it’s Sunday evening and you’re left questioning. Where did the weekend go?
- This makes me feel old. I feel like this is what old people used to say to me when I was younger. Am I an old person now?
- Covid, lockdown, pandemic fatigue. It’s all made it worse. Time has lost meaning. It’s more valuable, and less measurable than ever before.
For a long time after lockdown, after covid (is it after?) I was waiting for the world to restart. I was waiting for someone to tell me the world was back ‘on’ again. Waiting for someone to tell me it was okay to leave the house. To live. To tell me, the switch had been flipped.
It never came.
This is both anticlimactic and completely freeing.
It’s as if we were never held prisoner. It’s like we’re standing at the gate, looking at the path, waiting for what? Waiting for someone to say, well, you were free all along. The gate wasn’t locked after all.
But life has felt temporary, and it’s hard to dust off this latency feeling. 2021 definitely felt like it disappeared. Waiting for the next disaster, waiting for the next stage, waiting for something. I hate this.
But after gaining a little distance, a little perspective, I was shocked to realise it was always temporary. Life was always temporary. We were always living in flux, but perhaps we just didn’t see it.
Tales from a disappearing year
We took for granted that life would go on. Unchanged. We took for granted the days would increase, as opposed to count down. But the ugly, realistic, liberating truth is that life was always temporary. We just didn’t see. Or we didn’t fully realise it.
We naively (and narcissistically?) live as if we imagine our life will go on forever. And whilst there is nothing wrong with this happily-ever-after-thinking, it also doesn’t ensure we demand our time to mean something. We don’t use our time as if it’s running out. We don’t notice its passing, and we muse that it’s now the start of a new month, a new season, without questioning the days that passed to get us there.
Of course, we can’t walk around with the knowledge that our days are numbered in the forefront of our mind. There is enough tragedy, enough distress everywhere we look. We don’t need to walk with this hanging around our neck, too. However, a little consideration, a nod to the inevitable, can help us notice the days pass, and check-in with how we’re spending them. It’s all about balance, though. We need time that doesn’t have to have meaning. We need days that make life worth living. Days that give us to stories to write about.
What does this look like in reality?
Instead of working against the clock, running at full speed to the soundtrack of the calendar as it flips from page to page, I’m trying to work with the clock. To accept the simple truth that the ticking won’t stop. You can’t outrun it. You just have to make it count.
As Oliver Burkeman posed in his book, Four Thousand Weeks, what if we think of ourselves as 24 hours, instead of having 24 hours each day? What if we use this a measure to prove we’re a limited being with choices to make? We are the sum of our ‘yeses’ and the result of our ‘noes’. Instead of seeing time as running out, it’s about taking ownership of the parts we give away. It’s about choices.
This all sounds so trite and simple when the reality is harder to actualise.
Patterns of behaviour.
Sometimes it doesn’t feel like a choice at all.
To reclaim these ‘choices’, we have to make hard decisions. We must be surrounded by people who not only want the best for us, but support the actions we take to get there. And keep us accountable for the actions that take us away, they notice. They remind us of the disappearing year by asking questions that count.
- How are you really doing?
- What have you done this week for yourself?
- Does this help you work towards your goal?
- Can I help you?
We must also ask these questions of ourselves.
Noticing the days
I’m glad I’ve noticed the disappearing year, the way the days move slow but fast, because the countdown clock is always on. Whilst the ticking sound can feel like pressure, it’s also a pretty cool soundtrack. It reminds us to notice the passing days and learn to live in the temporary. Because if our days are disappearing, I want to make them count, to feel them slipping and cling to the moments that matter the most.
This is where documenting our lives comes in to play. It’s how we can notice the days as we reach for something to make them noticeable. Memorable. Meaningful. Or when this feels too hard. We can simply note down the smallest possible reason to be grateful and cling to them.
However, if the days are disappearing, it also means there is an enormous stack of hours behind us. Beautiful days, memories and stories that have shaped who we are. They haven’t disappeared. They’ve moved. And the best part is, we can still tap into them.
- We can still relish the joy they gave and them life once.
- We can document our days.
- We can write about our life.
In conclusion, I hope you notice the days. I hope you have people to support you with the hard choices. I hope you write about your life.
Become an Everyday Storyteller by writing about your life. Your story matters and Stories From A Backpack is here to help you live a life worth writing about. Join our monthly newsletter to become an Everyday Storyteller with us. Or buy the book Everyday Storytellers and learn how to turn your memories into stories.