Mail in a Pile on the Counter

Time is bizarre. 

It’s something we can spend and save, make and waste, choose and lose. We can have too much, but mostly have too little. Time can fly, and time can also crawl. It moves systematically forward but never backward, and it never, ever stops.  

The concept of time makes my brain hurt sometimes. How can an hour seem to sluggishly drag by, while the last 28 years whirled by me, knocked me over, yanked me onward in its wake? It is stumbling to consider time lost and wasted is something we can never get back. And in those quiet, most precious moments that snuggle beside our hearts and leave a lingering imprint, we want so badly for time to stop. We long for it to halt in its tracks, pump the brakes, freeze around us in those minutes we wish to last forever.  

But it won’t.

Time will always continue on, and it will shove you along with it, because it never leaves anything behind. 

As children, time is something that just can’t seem to run fast enough. We can’t wait to grow up. We can’t wait for that vacation next month. We can’t wait for dinner. We. Can’t. Wait. Then suddenly we stop running and wish we could back up. We want to turn around, go back, do it all over, take it slower. But we can’t. Time’s magnetic field keeps pulling us onward. 

As an adult, I never have enough time. 24 hours is not sufficient. I cannot work full-time, cook, clean, work out, home improve, walk the dog, grocery shop, get gas, water my plants, weed, mow, catch up on Stranger Things, call my mother, see my friends, scroll Facebook, make all those Pinterest projects, fold laundry, practice piano, write my novel, and get at least 7 hours of sleep in 24 hours! IT’S NOT POSSIBLE. 

I’ve come to the conclusion that adulting means making time. Adults learn to prioritize and learn to function with little sleep and learn how to balance all the little things in life that pile up (like that massive pile of mail on my counter that I have no intention of going through any time soon). We have to make time and prioritize. We have to. Because time stops for no one. Prioritizing, like adulting in general, takes practice. Sometimes we’ll let things slip. Like the mail. Or the weeds. Sometimes even friends. 

It seems more difficult to maintain friendships now, especially when we have different priorities, incomes, lifestyles, careers, schedules, and locations. It used to be so effortless. Texting and Facebooking daily came so naturally and we had all the time in the world to meet up for spur-of-the-moment Hobby Lobby extravaganzas. Now, suddenly, my evenings are packed with the above list while I dump extra energy into a new job and I save whatever I have left for the struggle to launch a writing career. We’ve all got lists like this. We all have our shit and sometimes it’s not fun. But it’s part of adulting and we make it work. 

Watching those around me grow and blossom into adults over time (even if they feel like they’re faking it sometimes) has been fascinating. I’m an observer. That is, I watch people. While the greatest obstacle for me is to put in a syllable in casual conversation, watching it all happen comes naturally. I watch the way their lips move as they talk, or the habitual gestures they use as they tell a story. The way they smile can be worth more than the words they utter. Perhaps most interesting of all is the speaker’s eyes. It’s the level of intensity swirling within them that really tells the story. An observer soaks in every word and detail, storing it away. I don’t only learn about the speaker; I learn about the entire human race. 

I’ve watched many different people from different backgrounds and with different aspirations develop into adults and become parents. In fact, my husband and I are one of the only couples within my friend group without children. I think there’s an irony here, because everyone always thought I’d be first. I’ve always wanted a whole pack of babies, my own baseball team to fill the rooms of this house. As I observe everyone around me, I think maybe I should be feeling like I’m running out of time, like there’s this biological clock slowly ticking away as the world continues to spin. 

But I don’t. 

For the first time in my adult life, I feel like I have all the time in the world. Or, maybe I feel like I simply don’t have the time to take that leap yet. I have time, I don’t have time, who knows? Like I said, the concept of time makes my brain hurt. 

Adulting doesn’t mean becoming a parent. I will, one day, when I can figure out how to adjust all those priorities and fit my large to-do list into 24 hours. But in the meantime, I will fluidly move with time, spin with the earth, observe the beautiful transitions around me, and leave the mail in a pile on the counter.

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