I’ve been thinking a lot about death lately, but don’t worry, not in a morbid, depressing sort of way. More so about death and its relation to time, and time is something I think about on a daily basis (we all probably do!). For me, it’s counting down the days until I see my parents again, but for a kid it may be anticipating Christmas, or a business person trying to meet a deadline.
The passage of time is something we most definitely can’t escape, and while sometimes it seems to move painfully slow (during school, for example) or too fast (when you’re with good friends) eventually for every individual it will stop. Enter death. And then what? Oh right, eternity. As people, we use the word “eternity” when expressing something that took a horrendously long time, but as Catholics we use this word to express everything that happens after death, where time no longer exists.
I’ll be honest and say that the concept of “forever” terrifies me. I know we’re all supposed to find comfort in the purgatory/heaven concept and the pure happiness that comes with being one with God for eternity. Maybe it’s just because of my short, 17 years on this planet, but it’s slightly nerve-racking to think about the next 50 years of my life, let alone forever, even if it is spent in a good “place.”
Let me try to give an example of what I’m talking about. After two weeks or so of “settling-in time” here in Italy, it suddenly hit me that I in fact wasn’t on some long vacation where everything would be perfect 24/7. I realized that this was my life. I would be living in a different country, with different people, speaking a different language, away from my family and friends for the next nine months.
To say the least, panic ensued. I started counting down the months, weeks, days until I would reach American soil again. Time seemed to crawl unbearably slow and nine months might as well have been nine years.
But, maybe a month or so ago I caught myself in class working on my “Countdown” sheet and had to laugh. What was I doing? Why was I so desperate to leave a once-in-a-lifetime experience? Why wasn’t I just living in the moment instead of going through the day wishing I were somewhere else? Why was I just waiting to be happy when what all I had to do was stick my head out of the hole I was hiding in and make an effort to be happy?
You can’t control how fast time passes, but you can control what you do with that time. I’ve learned that now, and since then time has been speeding by faster than I want it to.
The young want life to pass quickly so they can grow up, while the grownups want it to slow down so they can enjoy life. But as the cliché goes, sometimes we really do need to just stop and smell the roses. Because when we’re rushing forward, yearning, for example, for five months to pass more quickly, it’s hard to stop and look back at all that’s been accomplished in the past four. At least that’s my story. And maybe I need to realize that in the grand scheme of life nine to 10 months isn’t that long at all, and when you compare it to eternity it’s less than a blink.
Maybe you’ll find it ridiculous to take advice from a 17-year-old (because what do I really know?), but this is what I suggest: Enjoy life. Embrace every moment — good and bad. Live life. Don’t wish for time to pass faster because you might miss out on something great right in front of your eyes.
I hope your holiday season was wonderful and you have a blessed new year!
Your sister in Christ,