The People I’ve Been
As the world goes from unbearable heat to crisp fall mornings, as we hit a third wave and become more and more intolerant of closeness to others, and as the clocks turn backwards, leaving us with an extra hour behind closed doors, we are all closer to yesterday than ever. Why? It's all about the tangibility of what was, and what will never be again.
As quarantine progresses, I sometimes get a twing of panic. How is this my new reality? But maybe quarantine, and the seasons, and clocks, have nothing to do with it. Perhaps our perception of time is infallible, and we are never going to pinpoint that exact moment we changed forever.
We do change. Each moment brings us closer to our new personhood. How can I explain my actions ten years ago? I was a different person. I wake up in bed every morning and reflect on the time that has passed me by, who I was, how I've changed. Did it happen in seconds, overnight, or decade by decade? Maybe this is what everyone thinks about, or maybe it's so close to our reality, so obviously related to our deaths, that we don't think about it at all. I think about my decisions and feel deeply horrified. I think the perception of time brings us intimately close to who we have been; we are never going to be the same person we were yesterday. Or ten years ago. This is both depressing and deeply liberating.
But how can we know when that clock ticked to that certain second, and we changed forever? I'm obsessed now, especially during this time when death is in the air we breathe, with figuring out how many people I have ever been, in just three decades. How many breaths until I obliviously change, forever. Shouldn't this be something obvious, or is the meaning behind being a person is that we live so close to the present moment?
I'm going to die one day, and what will I have left behind? If each second on the clock is another breath I take, how many breaths until the next person I become?
I can still smell the coffee grounds perculating at my college cafe. I want this back so, so desperately. When was the last time I walked in and ordered coffee, and how could I have known it would be the last time I'd ever do that again? When I exited the cafe, how was I feeling? I was probably agonizing about something out of my control, something that doesn't matter anymore. So time goes. So flies away regret, so many seconds ticking towards something different and uncontrollable.
I believe we can't change knowingly, and time is the reason behind that. It is lucid and buried, as much a part of our conscious as breathing.
This is my latest obsession. We can turn clocks backwards but we'll never know when we woke up and changed, or if we ever did, and when we'll die, how our presence ever affected time and the space we take.