Friday, April 24, 2015

Our endless numbered days

I've spent the last couple years living like an alien. Floating outside of things and trying to piece them all together in some sort of meaningful narrative.

It's been hit and miss.

Nighttime views during a summer camping trip in Utah County

I let the past year drift by in state of semi-employment, a flurry of weddings, and dozens of afternoons laying on the floor, "organizing" things. I'm so grateful I was able to take that time (it was sorely needed). But by the time winter rolled around, I was eager to transform my days into something more intentional. I needed to start doing all those things I had promised myself I would do when I finished working in Provo; music practice, scripture study, job searching. All things that would give me direction, and help me feel better. So after mulling over what to give up for Lent, I finally decided.

I would give up sleep.

It was a simple equation. The less time I slept, the more time I would have, the more I could get done. I settled on waking up at 6:30 everyday. Even weekends. That may not seem very early to some of you, but for me it was a struggle, especially when an empty day loomed ahead of me with no substitute teaching jobs or scheduled work. Getting up at 6:30 would give me time to tackle those daily habits I wanted to adopt. There's nothing else to do that early in the morning. So I would have no distractions, no excuses.

Lonely morning views from my apartment

I did... ok. I got a lot done in those early hours, but I still kept my lazy ways. Some days I would pull out my phone and lie in bed for another 1/2 hour or so before getting up (cheating). And other days I would putter around for a bit before going back to bed to take a "nap" at 7:30 (also cheating). The days that I started off the right way, writing my morning pages and studying my scriptures, were markedly different. I was able to take morning trips to the temple without having to plan ahead. I watched Music and the Spoken Word at the Tabernacle on Sunday mornings. And I learned a lot about myself, and how I use the precious resource of time.

There are two views you can take when examining how to spend your days.

1) You become depressed. Days pile up in 24 hour increments full of meaningless moments that you repeat over and over and over.You see how you're not measuring up. And how you let so many things slip pass your notice, hundreds of missed opportunities given up because of laziness or fear, usually a combination of the two. I suggest not undergoing this sort of self-examination if you want to remain unscathed. 
2) You become overjoyed. You see each day as a new opportunity to do something different or create a beautiful moment. You see your potential for good. And how your life has taken unexpected courses that led you to form lasting friendships and taught you invaluable lessons. You've surprised yourself, and you've been better than you thought you could be. You are excited for all the days to come.

I've been feeling a combination of these two views. How do you balance the idea of endless days before us, endless days after? And the finite nature of each individual day? Every task you undertake is both pointless and of eternal consequence.

It's exhausting.

I'm soon to hit my year mark for living downtown.
It's been the longest second of my life.

Our favorite go-to teen philosophers (Jaden and Willow Smith) put it best in their interview with The New York Times:

WILLOW: I mean, time for me, I can make it go slow or fast, however I please, and that’s how I know it doesn't exist. 
JADEN: It’s proven that how time moves for you depends on where you are in the universe. It’s relative to beings and other places. But on the level of being here on earth, if you are aware in a moment, one second can last a year. And if you are unaware, your whole childhood, your whole life can pass by in six seconds. But it’s also such a thing that you can get lost in. 
WILLOW: Because living.

I returned to "normal" life on Easter morning. Sleeping in was nice, but just mostly left me feeling groggy. I felt ineffective and dumb waking up so late, and losing so much. I too easily sunk back into those bad habits.

But I think I also may have taken things a bit too far. Became a bit too robotic in my thinking about time, and scheduling every moment so that it is busy and full. I'm working on my perspective. I need to let time escape me. And not mourn its passing so much. Time and I are trying to develop a more healthy relationship.

So what I am working towards... 

A conscious unconsciousness? 

That shouldn't be too hard.

Romans 14:5-8

5. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.
6. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lords, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.
7. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.
8. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's.

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