My parents always described heaven as a place where you lose track of time. It’s a paradise so blissful that the days meld into one another. My mom explained there’s no use for the date when all your worries dissipate. She said time ceases to exist when you are at peace. It was a big concept for an 8-year-old to digest, but I think about it from time to time now. I specifically remember it during moments where I forget the days: hot, busy weeks in August, mindless hours spent with good company or lazy mornings where there are no alarms to wake up to. To me, those become heavenly moments.
Unfortunately, time has been the only thing I’ve been thinking of lately. There always seems to be an upcoming deadline, or something I thought was due a week later that was suddenly due at 11:59 p.m. There hasn’t been a blank square on my calendar for a while now and the items on my to-do list are never fully crossed off. I count how many hours of sleep I would get if slept at this exact minute. My frames of time have been reduced to just today and tomorrow. The only other marker of time I have is how fast the pile of dirty clothes and empty water bottles grows. From Google Calendars to Excel sheets, I am constantly running through my daily schedules, but even then, I forget a thing or two that can’t fit in the short 24 hours of the day. Time is always moving quickly, and it moves even faster when there’s so much to do. It moves fast enough that I am already warped into the very next thing, not even taking a moment to think about yesterday.
The other day, however, it hit me that I turned 19 a bit over a month ago. Nineteen. I hadn’t even registered that I was 19 until I noticed my outdated Twitter bio. The memory of my birthday feels so far away. The hard-hitting realization that my teenage years will be over in a few months was another reminder of how time is slipping right through my fingers.
As I changed the bio to “9teen,” I thought about how it’s too easy to summarize all the memories, people and stories I’ve lived through into a single measure of time. It’s not just 19 years. It’s a number of people who have walked in and out of my life, all of whom I miss and others who taught me hard truths. It’s all the missed connections, unsaid words and things I’ve learned to let go of. It’s also the time elapsed between once dreaming something to now seeing it to full fruition. All the sly smiles and sleepless nights are only a fraction of all the seconds I’ve lived so far. All those seconds that might’ve felt critical at the moment seem so minuscule now: the dates don’t matter so much anymore. Looking back for a moment, I saw how the 19 years melded together to make a string of miles traveled, humid summer nights and lots of Drake rather than 603,055,860 individual seconds.
With midterms right around the corner, I found myself switching tabs from Twitter to the next Canvas assignment. In the moment, it is easy to lose myself in a world of due dates highlighted in yellow. I realize time will continue to be on my mind until it is past me. So I find comfort in knowing I will probably be changing my Twitter bio once again next year and look back at the past fondly. For now, I’ll have to enjoy the short moments where I forget about time, like cheering at Saturday football games, showering after a long night out or convincing myself I will wake up after “resting my eyes for a few minutes.” While my mom could be right about forgetting about the hands on the clock when living at peace, I’ve learned that time doesn’t equate to the exact weeks, months or even years when you begin to reminisce. When you look from afar, all the minor stressors and deadlines become so small and life itself begins to look a lot more heavenlike. And rather than measuring life in time, I start to pick out the memorable moments and feelings throughout it all. I’ve realized you don’t need to lose track of time to have or even enjoy heaven-like moments because they’ll always be there, whether you see it right now or not. The key is just to recognize those moments at one point or another, regardless of time.
MiC Columnist Zafirah Rahman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.