Measuring Moments: The Antidote To Not-Enoughness.
Do you ever wonder if you’ve changed much over the last 20 years? And by change I don’t mean more wrinkles. I mean wisdom gained, lessons learned, improvement — existential progress.
20 years is a long time. To be exact, it is 7,300 days, 175,200 hours, 10,512,000 minutes and 630,720,000 seconds.
That’s more than half a billion moments. Have they counted for anything, been well-spent, worthwhile?
How can you tell? How do you make a quantitative assessment of a qualitative phenomenon?
I may have been a total deadhead when it came to chemistry, and skimmed the surface of average in math — but I think I may have figured it out…
I stumbled upon the solution when I went back to university after a 20-year absence. But it wasn’t the lectures that gave me the unit of measurement.
It was the simple act of being there…again.
It was like that height chart your parents may have kept on a doorjamb, marking your growth through childhood.
Returning to university — a place, life and experience I’d had 20 years earlier was a doorjamb with lines from the past that I could measure myself up against.
Leonie is shy and insecure. She gets nervous booking train tickets, stressed out about finding her way around campus, and uncomfortable not having anyone to talk to between lectures and tutorials.
Leonie wanders through campus for the first time feeling excited and adventurous. She doesn’t hesitate to ask someone for directions, and she’s bursting to talk to people, to discover their stories.
Between classes, Leonie writes in a journal, not so much because she is overflowing with a need to write there and then, but because she wants to seem absorbed, occupied, not uncomfortably alone.
Leonie sits down next to a stranger in the lecture theater on the first day, and immediately strikes up a conversation. Instead of insecurity, she feels curiosity. She wants to find out about people so she can write about them, but talking fills the time and she doesn’t write it down until a couple of weeks later because her life is so full of other ideas and projects.
Leonie chooses to study commerce because she believes it will be the practical thing to do, and thinks money is the most important thing in life. She finds most of it very boring and therefore challenging, but she’s stubborn so she doesn’t chop and change. She finishes it and graduates.
This time around, Leonie studies creative writing. Not for money or qualifications, but simply for the love of it, to learn new skills and to hang with other word-lovers.
Life was something that would happen in the future. And things could always be put off until tomorrow.
Leonie knows that life is now, and she’d better start living it (see her birthday freak-out for more on that). She’s still pretty good at procrastinating on things, but now she makes more of today, instead of deferring until tomorrow.
That’s probably quite enough of the poncey third person narrative.
There are also other differences, like driving a nicer car, and having a house to return to instead of a small college bedroom (which I loved though) and being able to afford fresh organic produce, instead of eating a lot of two-minute noodles.
But actually these material things aren’t nearly as valuable to me as the lines showing growth in self-confidence, curiosity, presence and passion.
I’m sure you, like me, have days when you wonder if you’re enough — if you’ve spent your moments wisely. Of feeling deflated when you hold yourself up against the goals and ideals you had for yourself and realize you’re not there. When you regret both doing and not doing things.
But just like gratitude is the antidote for insatiable desire, greed and envy, creating your own doorjamb height chart is the remedy for not-enoughness.
Leonie Orton is a blogger who writes intimate stories about life. She is also a freelance copywriter for businesses looking for unique, emotive words. When not writing, she’s teaching Yoga, playing with flowers, growing vegetables, exploring Earth, and adoring two spirited sons. You can get in touch with her via her website and Facebook, or sign up at her weekly blog.