I’m just going to go ahead and put this out there, but I hate this time of year. I hate the Christmas/New Years Eve bonanza that steam rolls over us with its awkward parties, useless secret Santa presents and crippling expectations. Not to mention, it’s that time of year when we start looking back on everything we’ve done, and mostly, all the things we haven’t done.
This is the time of year you can generally find me wailing on the floor between mouthfuls of cake as I look back and wonder what I’ve spent the last 365 days doing. Have I conquered the world yet? The answer is invariably no, because apparently managing to get to work on time seems to be my biggest achievement these days, so yet another year passes and my world domination tour is put on the back burner, once again.
But what I really hate most about this time of year is that it makes you think about time. And that really gets me, because it’s not real. It’s just a thing we made up. It’s great if you want to be in the same room with someone, time will help you do that, but other than that, it’s just a figment of our imagination that doesn’t exist. It’s a trick of the mind. It’s actually the most powerful mind trick we’ve got.
It can force us to do things and it can hold us prisoner. Above all, it can be cruel. Time has the power to take us back to the moments that really hurt. Which is funny, because when something hurts, you assume that it’ll just hurt all year round, but it doesn’t seem to work like that. I mean you feel it, of course you do, but when that moment in time comes around, that moment we ourselves marked with an anniversary or a date or an event, it’s as if it hits you all over again. As if you’re feeling it for the very first time. As if the last 365 days of healing meant nothing at all. Time just wipes it away.
Two years ago, right around this time of year, my flatmate walked into my bedroom and physically picked me, and my aching soul, off the floor and in true British fashion steered me into the kitchen for a cup of tea. If she hadn’t have come in, I’m not sure how long I would have lain there.
I then spent that next year looking down. Looking for the broken pieces of me that smashed across London. Looking down because I wasn’t sure it was safe to look up. Looking down so I wouldn’t look back, or forward, and mostly, looking down because I was too ashamed to look at my reflection in the mirror. Because how do you face yourself, when you hate what you’ve done to yourself?
And then suddenly, that awkward time of year comes around, (cue me wailing on the floor with cake on my face) and I wonder where the year went. Fast forward another year and we’re right back in the same situation and I’m still trying to figure out what I’ve done with all the time that’s passed. It’s been two years and I expected things to be different, I expected the pain to have gone and God dammit I definitely expected my world domination to have happened by now.
Maybe we just expect too much from it. We mathematically use time to attribute meaning and sense to our lives, but really, all we’re doing is trapping ourselves. We calculate that because X amount of time has gone by we should feel like Y. We calculate that we have to wait X amount of time before we can date, sleepover, or make declarations of love. If X amount of time has passed we’re allowed to feel sad, angry, happy or annoyed. It’s all just meaningless numbers really. At the end of the day, none of those calculations will mean anything at all. All that matters is how you feel today, and how you made others feel. That’s the only thing you can use to measure any kind of success.
So this year I’m giving up on time, because all it’s doing is making me feel bad. When the clock strikes midnight, I don’t want to be lying on the floor cramming compound carbohydrates in my face as I wonder why I’m not as happy as I ‘should be’ after two years, or why sometimes late at night, in the darkest hour, I still can’t breathe. I don’t want to compare myself to my peers and think, they’ve had the same amount of time as me and they’re doing so much better. I’m tired of beating myself up over how I ‘should be’ feeling or what I ‘should have’ achieved because X amount of time has passed.
Time is just a useful trick, the past is just our memory and the future is merely dreams so all I’ve got right now is me, in this moment today. That’s all there is. That’s all there will ever be.