Saturday 4 October 2014

Well, It's About Time

As it's coming up to my birthday, (THREE DAYS) I guess I've been thinking about the idea of 'time' a lot.

Suffice it to say, I'm really, kinda, totally not up for no longer being 21.

 It doesn't matter how many times you sing it Taylor Swift, you're not convincing anyone it's super awesome to turn 22.

21 is the golden year, where you finally become an adult, where you're finally free to take the world into your own hands and define your fate. Everyone is so amazed by what you achieve when you're 21, it's all 'But you're so young!' and 'Wow you're so mature for your age!'.

To me, turning 22 is like this great hangover from the vibrant, kaleidoscopic montage of childhood birthdays with goodie bags and bouncy castles, and teen parties with cheap wine and kissing the guy you've fancied for ages, which climaxes in that one great explosion of 21, to which you then wake up the next birthday with a sore head, a dry-mouthed sense of responsibility for your life, and the haunting realisation that your next big birthday is *gulp* 30.

And despite it being but a handful of months apart from that sacred golden age, I feel positively geriatric.

Gone is the sweet languor of youth! I wail to the heavens, the back of my hand to my brow. Gone are the innocent days of young, naive love and child-like frivolity! I weep, poring over old facebook photos from literally like 3 months ago. Gone be the time where my youth served only to amplify the significance of my triumphs! I mourn as I collapse into a heap by my windowsill in a Blache Dubois-esque fashion.

I've even started examining my face for the first signs of wrinkles and worrying whether I should be taking a complex multivitamin everyday.

And so this whole thing got me thinking about time, or moreover, the perception of it.

The fact that 'time' as we know it does not exist, only clocks and calendars and units of measurements do, is something which I accepted and fully understood from a young age. And the easiest way I can think to describe it, is when I go out for dinner.

I always have the same thought, whenever I go to a really busy restaurant.

I'm sat down with a bunch of people, and we're all talking and laughing, the excited hum of gathered humans fizzling through the amber air above us and mingling with the buzzing clamour of other tables, and we're discussing animatedly what takes each of our fancies and what we're going to order while the waiter hurriedly scribbles down orders in his little white notepad.

As he vanishes he's instantly forgotten as we dish out wine and tell stories, laughing as the person holding the whole tables attention reaches the punchline of his story and everybody falls about in fits. We indulge in our chosen meals, offering forkfuls to any who are interested and pass around side dishes and bread baskets from person to person.

For endless hours this continues and in our peripherals that waiter is still running around, darting from table to table jotting down notes and trying to remember which food goes where.

And only at the end, when the restaurant has long since emptied and our bellies have long since been filled, I look up at that waiter as he taps his finger agitatedly on the edge of the unresponsive card reader and I think;

How in god's name does he do it?

And then with a lazy sense of 'ahhhhh' I understand. It's because time is moving differently for him.

For us, two hours in a comforting, relaxed environment among friends feels like it lasts the whole night long, as you adopt your particular seat and viewpoint of the table as your temporary home for the night, learning where the bathroom and the bar is and becoming somewhat attached to your particular waiter as you acknowledge them as being the provider of good things to your party.

But for anyone who's ever had a job, particularly in hospitality, they will know that two hours at work is...*gazes wistfully at wristwatch* about one quarter of a shift, which is made up of 2 one hour halves, which in turn is comprised of 4 slots of fifteen minutes which is basically how long it takes to seat a table and take their drinks orders so BASICALLY all you need to do is take 32 more orders and you can go home. When you're constantly busy, two hours becomes just a series of 15 minutes'.

Time moves very, very differently dependent on the circumstance, because time doesn't actually exist. Only perception of time does.

It's the same as when you're at the cinema and you come out of your movie and it's suddenly dark and you see the same person who served you popcorn earlier now sweeping the floor and you think HOW ARE YOU STILL HERE? HOW HAVE I BEEN ALL THE WAY TO ANOTHER UNIVERSE AND BACK AND WHEN I RETURN YOU'RE *STILL* HERE? But the truth is in the while that you've been propelled to the farthest reaches of your cinematic imagination, they've swept a few screens, served a few customers, taken a fifteen minute break and suddenly you're coming out again.

And I think that's actually why I feel so, so much older than I actually am.

I can't even really remember distinct years of my teenage life. I look back at stuff and I think, I could have literally been anywhere between thirteen and seventeen when that happened, I actually have no idea.

But by the simple process of documenting my entire life, thoughts and activities via this blog, that's been completely flipped on it's head and I can recall more or less every single day of the past two years or so.

When I started blogging, I unintentionally altered my own perception of time.

It's now impossible for days to whiz past me without knowledge of where they've gone, because I am constantly aware of documenting everything, like I am actively cultivating time, curating a museum of experiences.

Forever fond of the analogy, it's like planting a seed at the end of your garden, and instead of forgetting about it and coming back in a years time to find a giant blooming sunflower and thinking Dang, how did that get so big! it's like waking up every single morning and running out to the back garden to stare critically at that little pile of soil, waiting for it to show signs of life, so that when it finally does grow, it feels like the triumph of a thousand days waiting.

I think my levels of consciousness and present moment awareness throughout each year of undocumented living have been diluted by ignorance and distraction, so that the years just meld into one blur of time. Looking back at this past year and a half, I can recall every day every month with perfect clarity, the likes of which I only got over a general year before.

I have effectively found a way to slow down time.

And in some ways... it kinda feels like I'm immortal.

Because whilst I'll biologically be turning 22 on October 7th, in my perceived notion of time and age, my mind feels like it'll be turning a worldy-wise 100 or so. And my god, my life in reality is just beginning.

Truly, 22 is still so so young, and so I suppose this birthday isn't really all that bad.

All I can say, in my last few days of being a 21 year-old, that I am eternally glad I started blogging, because it has given me the precious time and the gift of foresight, to be able to grow into the person I want to be. To make sure that I do not live and unsatisfied life, to make sure that by the time I do (hopefully) bumble into my old age, I don't look back with regret and shake my head forlornly whispering 'Where did all the time go? It seems like I only yesterday I was 21'. 

With what I refuse not to be a rich life full of new experiences, nomadic travels across the world, new faces to create unique memories with and a quest for knowledge paired with a rampant curiosity that stretches to the galaxies and back, it's almost impossible to let the days escape you in an over-familiar, unfulfilling slur.

I can live a thousand centuries within my precious few decades, and I can look back and go: Damn son, I did good.

And now the world-weary, ancient 80 year old inside of me that's thought enough thoughts for plenty a lifetime, wakes up and realises that oh my, I almost didn't realise! I'm actually only 22! And I know that I'm still so damn young with so much youth left to appreciate.

So screw it, let's raise a glass to getting older.