On learning to manipulate time
Before I entered Adulthood, Time was never a constraint. Actually, it usually didn’t move quickly enough. I was always looking at the clock, counting down until my next activity. I only thought about its scarcity on special occasions like my birthday, or the first day of summer…when I knew that it would run out.
At that age though, I never compared Time to quicksand — watching as it seeped through my fingers.
When I started my First Real Job, I noticed how different people were based on their perception of time. Some were always too busy, whether it was because of work or errands or their weekly date with Netflix. And some always found the time to explore, no matter how busy their lives seemed.
To an extent, money and ambition weren’t barriers anymore. Busy-ness was.
And fake busy-ness — no matter how real it feels — holds you back. We know that every human has 24 hours in a day. So how does Beyonce, or Oprah, or Hillary get shit done? How are they mothers, and daughters, and wives, and performing at the Superbowl and giving speeches in Cuba? How do they fulfill all of these roles, and still find Time to be themselves? How do they live, while the rest of us can barely even get out of bed?
Here’s a secret: They are hyper-aware of time. And, like the scarcest resource possible — they treat it like gold.
Living in Airports, January 2016
I was awake on Saturday morning before seven o’clock. And, not merely awake — I was on my way to Vegas.
The night before, my boyfriend found out he had to go to Las Vegas the following Monday for work, and asked if I wanted to spend the weekend there. Of course, like any normal person, my first reaction was to object: “Are you crazy?” I asked. My confusion and need for lists and planning was ever-present in my voice.
“No — I’ll get the tickets,” he replied, like it was as easy as jumping on the subway.
Even though I knew it was crazy, and even though I didn’t know how it was going to work out — I agreed. I said Yes, because how often do these chances come about?
And you know, the conversation could have been over before it started. I could have thought my Time was better spent running errands, or getting bagels from Murrays, or seeing the same people that I see every weekend.
But, I know Time changes based on where you are, and who you’re with.
So, we went to Vegas less than 12 hours after we booked our tickets. We spent two days walking down the Strip and watching the fountains at the Bellagio and marveling at how many people wore sweatshirts and sneakers in this Land of Opulence. We went to brunch and saw DJs and even though we slept in — our two days of freedom felt like they could go on forever.
Because, time morphs when you’re using it wisely. It stretches and takes the shape of the activities you put inside of it.
Of course, it’s always easiest to spend an entire weekend absorbed by Netflix’s newest season (that damn automatic play feature). But, how does that make you feel on a Monday? Especially when you have someone in your office who takes random weekend trips to Vegas.
I started really paying attention to how I spent my Time when I became an Adult. Time was now a currency I exchanged for laughs and sun and fresh air.
When I was in college, I started doing this thing where I “collected” moments. I thought of these random snip-its of time as more valuable than the shot glasses my friends brought back from their worldly travels. Or the Instagrams that were organized neatly to show exactly where they had conquered.
That’s because these moments were mine. Only.
I had one, simple criteria for a moment to make it into my collection: Time must stop. Did you ever experience that — when something was so magical, it felt like you could live in that moment forever?
So, my collected moments are varied; they consisted of sipping mimosas with some friends early on graduation morning, as I slowly looked around and realized that this Time was special. And, even just sitting on my first beach in Australia, realizing what it means to fully relax.
I put these moments into a box in my mind, only to pull them out when I need them most. Whether it was when I couldn’t get through one more Excel problem, or I was squished in between the sweaty sardines on the subway — I had my special collection to keep me sane.
Because of that, I am able morph Time, and make it something magical once again.