Time is Weird
I spent this weekend in Houston with my family, watching hours of March Madness and occasionally breaking to eat and sleep.
My dad was going over his notes between games on Saturday night and mentioned he was opening his sermon the next day with a story from the first time he and I went to Guatemala.
The trip was my for my sixteenth birthday. It was my first international mission trip of any kind, and something I’d wanted to do for years. We tagged along with another church so that my dad could just be the dad, as opposed to the pastor, which pleased me immensely. But it was definitely meant to be a one-time experience we shared.
Instead, my dad left that trip with a strategy to unite the collective church body in Austin, adopt an entire village, and stick with them for years. And he did. Because that’s the kind of guy he is.
Meanwhile, I just fell head over heels for the people. I picked up on the language, made friends with our mission partner’s staff, went back again and again and again and again and again until I knew names and faces and places as well as I did back home.
I tried passionately to convince my parents to let me move there — just a gap year, before college. I got 50 percent on board. The other 50 insisted if I went anywhere before college, I would never go to college, which was absolutely true; but it didn’t make saying my final “bye for now" to the country and friends I’d made there any easier.
(Side story: My dad was on that final trip, too, but let me stay behind a few extra days as a parting gift. All the guys that worked at the mission we partnered with rode dirt bikes everywhere, and both my parents had told me in no uncertain terms to please for the love of all that is holy not get on a dirt bike during any of my time there. As soon as the van carrying my dad and all the other trip participants to the airport turned out of view, one of the guys came roaring up, stopped abruptly next to me, and said, “So, you want a ride or not?” I swung onto the back immediately, held on for dear life, and justified it by deciding that a dirt bike ride for a gap year is more than a fair trade. Right? Anyways, it was awesome, and I survived. Sorry parents. I think you're just finding out about this. Love you guys!)
Time and events march along, though, and while those trips permanently impacted me as a person, the memories did what memories do — they inched their way back in my mind, taking up shop in the ever-growing catalogue of recesses.
My dad’s comment on Saturday, though, brought them to the forefront once more, and we both smiled as we shared a few memories from it.
“Man,” I said. “That seems like forever ago."
His face suddenly reflected genuine surprise.
“Really?” he said. “I brought it up because I was thinking it feels like it just happened."
We stared at each other for a second, considering.
“Time is weird,” I finally laughed.
It’s not an eloquent takeaway, but it’s the truth. At least at this stage of life. I’ve had more conversations with friends in the past year talking about the speed of time than ever before. It’s as if when you’re a kid, time moves slow as molasses; and then suddenly, one day, it’s fast. Like getting hit in the face with a splash of cold water.
But then there’s this interesting period of time that I’m currently occupying, where just for a little while you can still feel both.
Eight years feels like nothing to my dad, because it’s not. I know that now. But it also feels like an eternity, because I’ve still got a foot in both worlds.
I’m not sure when that ends (or if it ever does), but as friends and I have discussed at length, it’s a strange place to be.
I’ve been thinking about it even more since that conversation, and I think what I’ve decided is that the best option would be to kind of try and get the benefits of both, while they’re still simultaneously available. I want to embrace the slow, knowing the fast. Let good things feel like they'll last forever, as long as I can, even though I know it goes by in a minute.
And when the season is hard and I just want it to end, remind myself that it’ll be over soon. That this, too, shall pass, and quicker than I could ever imagine.
I’m sure it’s hilarious reading a 24-year-old’s perspective on time for anyone older than that, but it’s been on my heart and mind, and I felt like putting it on paper more than anything, just to try and sort it out.
How does time feel to you? Slow or fast? Or does it stay both forever? Let me know, but either way: time is weird.