18 May I Refuse to Be Afraid of Time, I Only Hope to Cherish It
ON SUNDAY morning, I laid in bed and listened to the rush of rain hitting the cobblestones in the alley.
The peaceful sound of falling water coming from the sky grew stronger, until it fell in one, nourishing pour.
This made me smile.
I looked forward to stepping outside and taking a breath of fresh, cold air.
The alleyway outside the bedroom provides enough room for kids to play; they often do, and I hear their cries and laughter. On Sunday there was nothing but the sound of rain; I wanted to do nothing but enjoy it.
Rain accentuates the details of a world in constant flux. It brings me joy to observe the subtleties of a shifting world; this tells me something about who I am and what I love.
Looking closely, I see not only what is there; when I stop to really see, I open up my heart and soul and rip away my mask, not needing to move just to move, to do just to do — I finally allow myself to be just to be, and that is when I feel my heart bursting with love for all of us just trying to exist, to get along, to find our way in peace.
Perhaps it takes slowing down to notice this.
Slowing down to truly feel our hearts that beat together.
That— our ability to heal by looking into one another’s eyes — that has to be the reason we are here.
We move so quick we hardly feel the drops of rain; we barely see each other passing. I don’t want to live that way. I refuse to be afraid of time — all I hope to do is cherish it.
Every second on this earth.
One day I’ll look back and question why I worried. One day I’ll look back, and I won’t regret the things I didn’t accomplish.
The only thing that I’ll regret is not savoring each breath that gave me life, each conversation that I was fortunate enough to share with a friend, a stranger, my family; each moment when I had the time to look into the night and the sea of stars, when I had the chance to do nothing, but say thank you.
In the rain, the yellow blue and green tiles of the building in the alley blossomed like wildflowers. The grey street came alive, as if it needed the drink; the world, normally cracking with the sound of kids yelling and cars honking, took on an air of calm.
It’s not just the details of the rain that I love, but all the distinct moments which constitute our days.
I appreciate the subtle qualities that give a city depth and character; the notes of a particular style; the nuances of personality and interactions.
We have universal ideas about what this world is made of. We are universal human beings — we have to be to get along with any sort of consistency. We recognize emotions such as anger and worry, joy and love.
These emotions are difficult to describe, because on some basic level we just understand what they are because of how they make us feel. Yet we’re so much more than universal — we’re distinguished by our details.
After that first date, do you remember the school that they attended and the degree that they received? Sure. Kinda. No?
More likely, you’ll remember the electricity they carried with them through the night, the necklace they wore and the way their eyes squinted as they listened.
Cities, although different in style, geography, cuisine and culture, are built upon an ancient premise — to provide housing for the people, work for those who live there, entertainment to those who visit and those who call it home.
Yet these generalities are nothing more than broad strokes.
You aren’t who you are just because of your family, your job title, your age — you are who you are because you’re pieced together by your memories and falls, your moments of solitude and the people who surround you.
You are who you are because you dream unlike anybody else, because your laugh is what’s remembered, because you’re you, and nobody needs to know what that means, but you.
Be proud of who you are. Honor your subtleties.
We’re expected to act a certain way, journey along a certain trajectory, stay in line, adhere to the rules, not stray too far from the broadly painted path.
But our spirit wants to step outside the lines. Something wants to break from the rules and stray to the land of nonsense.
An inner desire longs to dive deep into this thing called existence, deeper into who we are, what fans our inner flame, what makes this life worth living.
We’re more than universal beings. I’m trying to understand who I truly am, what I want, what sort of life might make me happy. And maybe that comes down to studying the details, what evokes each flooding emotion, be it peace, joy or worry.
What subtle shift in energy makes you smile when alone? what color gives your soul a spark and sustains you through the day?
I’m trying to notice how the world makes me feel, what I care about, and if it’s me who cares. Maybe that takes slowing down to do so properly.
The rainy morning woke my soul from its reverie — a dream that isn’t mine — the notion that I need to live a certain way to be happy. That I need to do what others are doing to progress to where I want to go.
But I’m not like everybody else, nor are you, and we don’t need what everybody needs.
I need the rain to make me stop and gaze outside the window. I need the rain so that I’ll listen, really listen, to the sounds of water crashing on the stones, the sound of my heart, beating, beating, beating from my chest.
How can we know who we are until we stop to listen? How can we know until we float for a while and notice where the wind blows us?
How can we know until we face the shadows of our soul, until we walk beside our demons and come to understand, this isn’t me.
That is liberation.
Once we accept that it’s okay to live life on our terms, that it’s okay to honor life by the way we live, not the things we do, everything changes.
As the psychologist Jordan Peterson writes in his book 12 Rules for Life:
To journey happily may well be better than to arrive successfully.
Journey along, my friend. You’re doing great.
The rain requires nothing from me besides attention, and when I give it, I’m inspired to look within myself and notice how I change.
I long to live a life where I fill my days doing those things which satisfy my soul, which ground me on the earth I stand and fill my heart with love.
We feel the weight of time, this thing which we created. Yet time means nothing more than the passage of light, the upwelling of a wave, the formation of a cloud, the falling of a leaf.
If we don’t do now, if we don’t be now, if we don’t keep up, what are we? Where are we going, if anywhere at all?
That’s not how it is.
Truth isn’t in the fearful chatter which filters through the cracks around us.
Our truth comes from what we feel intrinsically, what gives us life and doesn’t take from it. And maybe that truth is more real than the seconds which fall from the clock.
We mustn’t be afraid of the earth’s continual turning, because anything worth doing, knowing ourselves most of all, takes careful introspection. It takes sitting with ourselves in the sun and in the rain.
I write because it gives me a reason to study the details, to study the space around me and the world within my bones. I love this, and the pressure that I often feel takes from that love.
When I feel my love for life diminish, I know that I must change. That love that we feel when life becomes simple, when things seem right, when you’re doing what makes you happy — when you’re inspired, lending a hand, in the arms of a friend, when you’re sincerely doing you — that love will take us to where we’re meant to go.
The rain seems to slow the world’s spinning. I study the details because they instill this world with meaning.
I observe the world around me, and that ability to do so makes me so, so grateful. To even have the chance to contemplate these thoughts, when many are just trying to survive.
To have a day, a morning, a single moment in a garden; a breath of air is all I really needed.
Time is back within my grasp, slipping through my fingers as each single drop of rain. I’ll let it pass, let it fall — look into the sky and smile, grateful for any time on earth, any time at all.