No matter how often I may say otherwise, I’m not that old. I suppose technically I’m still young, but I am old enough to know that life is short. Fleeting, really. And the best parts move at the fastest speeds. Though the clock seems to slow during the parts we know we need to savor, the second we blink time has sped up and memories are whisked feverishly into the annals of our minds. Stacked and categorized by sensation and feeling. Momentum and mood. It’s a cruel trick that time plays on our minds, and on our hearts.
This dichotomy of time and movement was the most clear to me when my grandfather was in the last months of his life. As I watched him slowly fade into the recesses as a tired, old man, I also watched my daughters spring into their childhood. Loud, voracious, awkward and gangly. Their voices filled with joy and laughter. I wished for time to move swiftly. For the days to whir by and free my grandfather from the prison of his broken body and his tired, untrustworthy mind. But I also wished for it to stop altogether. To freeze still so that I could treasure endless days with my daughters exactly as they are – right this moment. Their hair wild and snarly, their voices filled with whining excitement and incurable curiosity. Time listened. It did as I wished. It slowed down and sped up. My grandfather passed slowly, and my girls are growing like weeds.
But what does this have to do with two friends playing in the snow on a perfect winter day? Everything. Nothing. The thing with death – as well as life – is that it forces us to realize the fragility and cruelty of time. And it forces us to USE it. To do something with it. To not waste it. I’m sure I still waste far more than I should, as there are so many things I want to do with my life – in my life. But the point is that I am trying to waste less of it. So instead of filling my moments with a list of “must do’s” manifested by outside forces and some idea of what being “perfect” or “normal” is, I’m filling it up with people and things and memories.
If money is meant to be traded for things, than we must do the same with the most precious of our currencies. We must ensure that our time – that our lives – are traded for things. For memories. For moments. For feelings and moods and laughter and tears. For everything in between.
So on one perfect winter Sunday, an amazing photographer (and friend of mine) and I decided to trade our time for a few moments of unabashed uncomfortableness. I stepped in front of her lens and laughed my awkward self from one frame to the next, and Jamie stepped in front of mine and rocked. it. out.