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Suddenly I feel the weight of time. Oh, you too?

Every moment feels as though it must be momentous. Every second feels as though it is wasted if not fully experienced. And I don’t know how to escape this loop, where time is precious, time is wasting, time is expiring, time is ticking, time is past.

Time is all we have. It’s unbearable.

It’s not that I suddenly feel old. I don’t. Despite whatever age you think I am, or what that age should mean for where I am professionally, personally, physically, mentally, et fucking cetera, aging is not the way that I’m feeling the weight of time pressing upon me.

I am exactly where I am. Where else would I be?

So, aside from the smile lines that frame my mouth—earned from years of enjoying my life, spending my time on things and with people that matter to me—I’m just not seeing or feeling the age-related changes that I hear others complain about. I’m not degrading or declining. As far as I can tell, I’m out here peaking, cresting, maybe still climbing.

So why does time suddenly feel so heavy?

Is the pull of gravity stronger because I’m rising? No, that’s quite the opposite of how gravity works.

I don’t feel like I’m running out of time. Perhaps I’m outrunning it? Perhaps I’m on my own timeline, doing my own thing? Perhaps time is both real AND a construct, and the part of it that is a construct is trying to stifle or suffocate me, making me think I’m the problem? But, I feel like it’s a trick. I feel like someone is gaslighting me. I feel rushed.

And I’m getting tired of having to constantly remind myself: I’m not the problem.

So then what is the problem? It’s hard to describe. It feels sort of like I’m trying to work into a Double Dutch jump rope that isn’t my pace. It’s too slow or too fast. Or there’s no rhythm at all. I keep watching the ropes move and trying to enter, but every time I try, I get caught up on something. Am I tripping?

Why does it feel like everything is stalled while also rushing forward at light speed? Where is time going and where has it been? Can I stop this crazy machine? Can I get off this line to fucking nowhere? Can I exit this ride? JANE, STOP THIS CRAZY THING!

When I feel time wrapping its serpentine body around me,

squeezing out the air and space and life

that I want to breathe and explore and experience

I find myself burdened with questions.

Is it the pandemic?

A joyless existence, where there is no certainty and we don’t control anything. We’re all paralyzed by this stifling force, waiting it out but trying to press on. Trying to hang on to ourselves, to what we love, to the threads of sanity we still hold in our hands.

Is it social media?

Ah. The vacant, vapid wonderland contained in the palm of our hands. The way we struggle for connection, acceptance, and belonging through our phony phones. The way we compete or feel left out or judge ourselves. We know it’s not good for us, but we can’t seem to put it down.

Is it the end of the world as we know it?

The feeling that everything is fucked. That the entire globe is careening toward a climate crisis that we can see and stop, if only there was political will. But there is no political will because our political systems are irreparably broken and incentivized to stay polemic and polarizing.

Is it everyone and everything?

Perhaps. And perhaps it’s best not to dwell on it.

So then, how do I recalibrate how I experience time?

I’ve always been so future-focused, so optimistic, so excited for what might come. But these past few years have really made the world feel like it’s closing in on me. And I’ve realized that I need to learn how to be in the moment. And for me, that is both a challenge and solution.

But it all starts now.

Kelaine Conochan

The editor-in-chief of this magazine, who should, in all honesty, be a gym teacher. Don’t sleep on your plucky kid sister.

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