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TIME IS A TRIP

“What does it feel like being here?”

My sister posed the question. I took a moment to think.

“Everything.”

Being back in Brisbane – the city where I grew up and lived to the age of 26 – makes me feel a bit of everything.

Memories from childhood, going to school, pop up. There’s high school, playing in the yard with my friends and riding my scooter around.

During university, I was gaming in my bedroom and running the local Woolworths for shifts – always late, which would be brought up in my ADHD diagnosis many years later. There are also the memories I’m less fond of… Sleeping in with drawn curtains, staring at the wall, overwhelmed with adult life.

I go for drives, remembering routes taken to friends’ houses, the gym, and just walks at night to clear my head. Like the lines on the palms of my hand, they’re just there. A part of me.

I go on visits to the city and travel through familiar suburbs. I notice changes to houses, new apartments and other developments. I see people – young people. They’re fashionable and carefree. I think about the hours I spent in the mall walking around with my partner at the time. I feel young at heart, I always have. But seeing these things brings me closer to the truth I  can’t deny: the passing of time.

Another long-term friend makes this point by pointing out the greys in all our beards… while holding his newborn baby. Checkmate. I smile, trying to push back the feelings of panic, the sudden pressure, the rising sense of urgency. If time is passing, does that mean it’s running out? I take the question home with me and ponder it while on a night walk.

While I’m sad about the days gone, I want to appreciate having them. I don’t want to get hung up on the past so much that I forget to live for the present. Time is a running river, and like it or not, we’re being taken with it.

I guess writing this is my thank you. I’m thankful for growing up in a safe neighbourhood with a big backyard and friends. Coming from a loving home with a roof with everything I needed, provided. Being a Youth Worker now, I know this sadly isn’t the case for all young people.

I see photos from vacations I forgot we took. I see my frustration in having to pose for photos at the time, but I’m so grateful I did. Though I can’t remember all these childhood memories, I know I am who I am because of them.

The following night I sit down with my parents and go through their old photo albums. In the 60s, they were in Europe before working on some islands like Trinidad and Tobago. They then moved to Australia where they settled down. I comment on the clarity of some of the photos. The black and white film adds a nice touch.

For a laugh, I try sending a younger photo of my Mum to my sister and try to convince her the photo is of her. They look alike. Likewise, I can see similarities in photos of my father in his 20s. There’s something transcendent about looking at photos of your parents when they were your age.

The time gap is at its greatest here, but I feel strangely closer to them. We’re all just people, trying to figure this thing out. Seeing them age has been hard, but looking at these photos warms me. They’ve had very full and eventful lives. It’s inspiring.

While looking through the albums, postcards and letters fall out. It blows my mind that once this was the way to communicate with someone. One postcard mentions waiting a full month for a previous postcard reply. Nowadays, a conversation can be started and over in a couple of minutes.

Technology has changed our lives so much – even from my youth where I’d sit on MSN chatting away on the family computer before being told to log off. But if you were to give me a choice, I wouldn’t change a thing. And I genuinely believe my parents would feel the same.

Time is a fucking trip.

I left Brisbane, exactly ten years ago. In contrast to my friends who stayed, my path has had a lot of twists and turns. I used to feel like something was “wrong” about this. But seeing where I’ve ended up, I’m okay with things. There are so many possible pathways, you could pull out every single strand of hair trying to decide which is the “right one.” A better approach is just to focus on doing your best; to adapt as life unfolds.

The message that we can’t control everything might not be helpful – I get that. So here’s something that’s always brought me comfort. It’s a verse from the poem Desiderata. Whever time takes you, I hope you go gently.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

 

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