Such a fuzzy thing. So vast we can't begin to wrap our head around how long it has been since it began, or how far out into the future it will run. At the same time, it seems so finite, and there isn't enough to go around for our short life span. We try to break it down into bits and bytes on the vibration of a crystal, but the further division does not seem to add up to a greater whole.
This weekend I had a few perspectives intersect. I have been working toward another work deadline that in the end will be just a blip on the lifetime calendar. In the moment, however, it seems crushing and the hours and minutes seem far too short. I have no time.
Today, I was reminded that four years ago, I was running the Long Beach Marathon. I was reminded by someone I met that day. I have not seen her since, but we have remained connected through the ether of the web. We set out together that day, with the same time goal, to sneak in under 3:50. The ticks of her clock were a bit louder that day, since getting under that barrier would net her the Boston Qualifier (BQ) she was seeking. We knew nothing of each other before that first step, but came to know each other in the moment of joined struggle.
She got her BQ that day by a single second. A stumbled half-step or pause for an extra drink might have kept her from her goal, but she made it by that incredibly small division we make of the vastness. Four years and countless seconds down the road, she has made a better life for herself, and looks back on that day as part of the catalyst.
Just a year ago this weekend, four friends and I were crossing the finish line at the Chicago Marathon. That day was one of the most amazing, connecting with humanity sorts of days I have had. By the ticking of the clock, it was not the best day I have had on the road, but by most any other marker, it was. Tonight I was with three of the four, celebrating another passage of time that seemed more amazing still.
We were there to celebrate an eighteenth birthday. The daughter of my friends. I am still amazed and fortunate to have these friends, to have them be such a big part of my life two decades later, again through some random run in from signing up to take on a challenge together. At times it is hard to wrap my head around all that has transpired since I walked into that restaurant to fill out an application. But here, there is this person who has been growing and blossoming during that entire time. A visual and literal reminder of how much time has passed. It doesn't seem possible, but there she is, ready to choose a college and start her own life.
I hesitated to pour all this out on her lap, this jarring realization of how much time has floated by on daily tasks, deadlines, and seemingly life changing events over the eighteen years she has been alive. She probably would have tolerated the ramblings, but the meaning would likely be lost on her. Time doesn't seem to gain profound meaning until so much of it has seemed to leak by.
I am so blessed to have this time, with these and other friends, and to have a second generation of connection after all these years. It can be painful to tally up the minutes and years gone by, but when you stand back for a moment, and see what has happened and what is still around - well you just hope you have another 20, 40, 60 years, and more importantly, that you mark and enjoy every minute.
Including nights like tonight, when I didn't think I had the time.