On Time and Pace

There have, yes, been times in my life where I wish I could make a moment last forever, or at least a little longer, so I could memorize every detail, across the whole span of senses, so I could wallow in it, feeling the deep riches of the moment.

And there have been times so awful it was almost a physical pain, as I tried to make it through a day in the hospital, hooked up to machines, with just enough awareness over the cloud of pain to feel time dragging itself by like some heavy, grit-skinned worm.

But that’s how life works. One of the reasons the precious moments are so precious is that they are so small and rare, bright flashes like jewels, whose very color and shape, rather than size, give them beauty. It’s the knowing that this beautiful moment will pass–is passing even as you grasp it–that makes them so bright and valuable. If you could live longer in those moments, they’d be as common and everyday as houses, a sort of paper-napkin dailiness.

Humans: we get accustomed to things–good and bad–astonishingly quickly. It’s our species’ gift and curse, I think. Give us good, we will swiftly become used to the good and demand better. Give us bad, and…we’ll find a way to scrape something like a life out of it anyway. It’s what we do, who we are.

I learn as much from each kind–the fast and beautiful moments and the slow and ugly moments both. I’ve learned to appreciate the good moments–there are times now when I can feel one coming, and I’ll look up, and see something that brings me joy and just open my heart to gratitude–whether it’s a quiet sunny morning with coffee and a friend, or looking up from a good book to see my cats around me. I’ve learned that life is beaded with these beautiful moments, even if some of the beads are small.

And from the painful, awful times, I have learned patience. I have learned to endure. I have learned that I am stronger than I think I am–that I have not succumbed to the lick of insanity that fierce impatience brings, and I haven’t dissolved, utterly, into despair.

And like the dark velvet cloth jewelers use to show off a gemstone, those slow, bloaty, dark moments have made the bright ones shine even brighter.

If I’d sped through one, or lingered in the other, I wouldn’t have gained my strength, wouldn’t have learned the compassion and patience, the slow, careful eye one needs to find the tiny gems of everyday beauty.

Pace Oddity


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