Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall in Vermont

Having grown up in Southern California, fall to me meant slightly cooler evenings and perhaps a bonfire at the beach.  Now that I live in New York City, I decided it was high time I got to experience New England in all her glory.  I believe a picture is worth a thousand here's an entire essay:

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thinking Aloud

Life is made up of hundreds of thousands of seconds.  Each second is just that, a second.  It is neither good nor bad, happy nor sad, young nor old, healthy nor sick.  And yet, each second has the ability to mean any or all of those within them.  I have an oddly accurate recall, and having experienced no trauma as a child, I can recall things back into my first weeks of birth.  Some are brief memories; my uncle lifting me out of my port-a-crib and carrying me upstairs, my aunt making me laugh, the smell of Christmas.  Other memories are longer; the first story I wrote in one sitting, the first boy I talked to on the phone, the first time my Nonna let me make Thanksgiving dinner.  Someday none of these memories will exist.  And when they don't, the seconds that they occupied won't matter.  This is true no matter who you are, no matter what the memory is and no matter how many seconds that memory occupies.

What fascinates me about this truth is that we are all so serious about our seconds.  I just turned 33.  I love my 30s.  I wish I could go back and have been born in my 30s and never gone through anything until my 30s.  When I told people it was my birthday, they said, "Oh!  21, eh?"  or "oooh, better you than me!"  What is so wrong with having lived all those seconds?  Why is it better to have lived fewer seconds than greater?  What difference does any of it make anyway?

If you're reading this and don't know me, you might think I'm depressed or crazy or feeling neglected.  Quite the opposite; I take joy in knowing that not only have I lived 33 years worth of seconds, but that one day it will be as if they were never lived at all.  Energy lasts forever.  Everything is made of energy, or matter; and therefore that energy which is created by us in our seconds has the ability to affect the coming seconds.  In this way only do our seconds mean anything to each other.  However, there will be a time when all the energy of the world collects back into itself and people will cease to exist.  You can believe it's when Jesus comes back for us; when God sends a Messiah for us; or when the big bang reverses and everything comes back to explode again.  But the inevitable truth is that eventually life will cease.

My thoughts about this are then if: A) A second is a second; B) We have a limited number of them, C) They will effect only the seconds that follow within the same energy field we now exist, and D) You can neither reclaim seconds nor correct them; then E) LIVE THEM.  If you think it's better to be 21 than 33, then perhaps it's because the seconds between those numbers weren't used properly.  If you think a previous second means the next seconds don't matter, then perhaps it's because you've never known a perfect second and therefore don't know what you're missing and are therefore wasting with your limited seconds.  You might then make a fool of yourself, learn a tough lesson or feel as if you're free-falling without a net.  But I can tell you one thing:  When you're willing to make a fool of yourself, learn a tough lesson or free fall (metaphorically) without a net; you begin to see the possibilities in each second instead of fearing the collection of them.

I think about things like this often because many many years ago I realized that we all die.  It was a tough week.  I was 7 and saw a poster about HIV.  I don't remember what it said or how the thought was triggered, but it occurred to me that HIV makes you dead.  My grandfather and great-grandmother both died the year before and I hadn't seen them since.  So dead meant gone forever.  I began to think about that a lot.  If I was gone forever at 7, what would I not have done that I wanted to do first?  Now at 7 I promise you my thoughts were a little different.  I'm pretty sure it went something like, "I need Princess Barbie!"  I kept that with me though, always.  When I went to my senior Prom I stood at the door when it ended and looked back on the room.  It was empty and Phil Collins was singing..."Maybe you're not alone...please give me one more night, just one more night".  I can still remember each table, each fallen napkin, the streamers, the stage and the depth of the room.  I had gone there that night for this moment.  I knew that years later I wouldn't remember all the people I danced with or the food we ate or the conversations I had; but I would remember that I went to my prom and stayed until it ended.  I didn't waste a second.

I have endless memories like that.  Most recently, I was at a concert in the Penthouse Suite of a glass hotel in NYC.  I sat in a comfy wicker chair listening to an Argentinian woman sing softly while a soft breeze blew around us and we watched the lights of the city turn on after the sunset.  Magical does not adequately describe that memory.  I closed my eyes for a moment and then when I opened them, I took in everything.  The movements of the people I could see, the half full drink glasses, the twinkle of the city lights, the sound of her voice and the feel of my friends with me.  Being 21 means erasing that memory.  It means going back to a time when that memory didn't exist.  That's too precious for me to erase.  To risk not experiencing exactly as it happened.  When I hear people who don't seem to get that their seconds only matter to them.  That they get only a small number of them, and as they leave they're gone forever.  When I hear people who don't get it, it makes me sad for them.  I've made a heck of a lot of mistakes in my life; but living my seconds to each of their potential is worth the lessons along the way.

If you're looking at your life and thinking, "How have so many seconds gone by already??" then perhaps it's time to make them count.  They're going to pass either way....1....2....3....