November 4, 2012 § 3 Comments

I think sometimes, when things are rough and it’s hard to appreciate the sunny days that are upon us, it’s easier to begin living in the past. I’ve felt like I’ve been in a rut lately, and every day that I’m in the hospital, writing a progress note and dating it, I’m surprised to see that it’s October already, that it’s November already. Time is flying by and always taking me by surprise.

So I’ve decided to chronicle the different moments in my life that time seemed to have come to a standstill. And in a little bit of circular thinking (or cleverness, whichever you will), I’ll note that a moment can be such a passing glance that to be able to dwell on it is a lasting reprieve.

– when I was less than four years old, and my parents placed my newborn baby sister in my lap, so tiny and pale, porcelain almost, sleeping, so tiny! I gingerly held her little self in my hands and lap, and I yelled for them to take her away because the fear of dropping her or hurting her came in and consumed me whole. They didn’t respond right away, and those forty seconds that I continued to hold her were the scariest and most vivid of my entire life.

– when in the fourth grade, I saw my math teacher rap the knuckles of a boy with her wooden ruler for not finishing his homework. I began to convulsively cry at the sight, and she stopped, completely taken aback by my (over)reaction. “I don’t respect you,” I later wrote at the top of my homework before handing it in.

– when my family took a trip to a water park in 1999 in India, and I watched from the top as my mother’s floating tube spun her around down a slide and she slid into the pool backwards, a look of terror etched on her face. For the fifteen seconds that it took her to get her bearings and beat herself to the top of the pool, I was deaf and numb, and I thought that the world had ended. I kissed her every single night for the next year.

– when my family visited Tirupati, a Hindu pilgrimage site in south India in the early 2000s, and we spent a whole day waiting in long lines among the twenty or thirty thousand something people, for the five second glimpse of the deity at the top of the seventh hill. The deity was all black stone and gold ornament, and I was amazed at how long those five seconds seemed to stay with me afterwards.

– when I’d come home from a life-changing summer program in high school, and was preoccupied for a week after, at all the new ideas that had come my way, all the doors that had opened, the fantastic people I’d met, and began to seriously carve out a vision for the future.

– when I visited Alaska with my family this summer, head and heart tumultuous with a dozen thoughts and utter restlessness, how the ship turned to starboard, and I caught the most magnificent whale kiss the surface and dive back down in a flurry of water and air, grand glaciers in the background. Nothing else mattered. That was perfect, and enough.

My friend N and I were on her bed last night with her computer, trying to stream the movie 500 Days of Summer, but unable to find a working link. There was only one point, a finger-size in width on her touchpad that worked to let you click the screen. Searching was made difficult. Then I noticed that the little date in far right corner read “Nov 21, 2001”.

“What the hell?” I wondered aloud.

“This is a piece of crap,” she grumbled, and moved to fix it.

“Talk about living in the past,”I joked.

That’s what it is. Reflection is a good thing, I think, for it gives our actions meaning and perspective. The things that stay with you, the forces that’ve shaped you, the people that’ve impressed you – it’s important to keep these close to the heart. But at some point, we’ve got to grumble and exhort, take what we can, move to fix things, and carry on.


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