Friday once more. Friday: the goal throughout the week, the marker of survival, the day which turns into night too soon. The thrill of Friday is the relief from Thursday and the expectation of Saturday. Yet, to this girl who has trouble living in the present, Saturdays seem to fall flat due to the impending Sunday which of course implies Monday.
As a freshman I took a seminar in Sociology. Required for the purpose of rounding me out, the course was taught by tall wizened white-haired professor named Eugene. His first question: would you prefer to be a caveman over what you are now? His tone: you’d be crazy if you didn’t.
I, stubborn in my pretentious views of science and music and literature and progress, shuddered at the thought. Thusly I made myself a nuisance for the remainder of the semester then tossed the course off as a biased waste of time. Yet Eugene’s views haunt me still.
I find that, over and over again, my heart would indeed prefer a primitive existence.
We were assigned to explore aspects of such a life, the first accomplished by a time fast. Swearing an oath to refrain from timekeeping for five days, I covered all clocks in my room, woke up without alarms, invariably stood outside the dining hall for endless minutes in the sub-zero weather waiting for the doors to open for breakfast, showed up early to math and late to sociology, and overall avoided disaster.
But this was not quite a fast in the strictest sense; I still tracked time in my brain, simply adjusting according to when a class began (or, more often, when the dining hall opened; apparently I was naturally hungry at 1600ish to no avail as dinner did not start until 1700.) I imagine in primitive ages time would look more like this: sunrise, noon, sunset. And days themselves: I still knew Monday from Tuesday and so on. If I were pre-society my time would not be marked my such intermediate chunks as weeks, but rather large stretches of indefinite seasons striated by mornings and nights.
I would of course feel stress: what would I eat? Would I be bored? The cold would be a killer more than an annoyance, and my greatest advantage now (book-knowledge) would have no play in such a world. But time would be a lesser evil; its passage would not instill in me a dread so suffocating, so paralyzing, for things like waking up in the morning or a project proposal or a task set forth by my adviser. If time were a problem, it would be because it was directly related a real one: death. Do I have enough time to outrun this wild boar? Do I have enough time to track and kill this dear before the next snowstorm? Time would only be an issue in relation to survival.
Strange: I often say it is my mission to live rather than to survive. But I begin to realize that when I am fighting to survive, I feel most alive. Whether that’s in a workout or a job interview or a desperate fight to keep it together.
I’ve also said that I’d rather live than simply exist. But existing, be-ing, encompasses the other times I feel alive: falling asleep with boomer, feeling the sun drown my skin in the summer, the profound stillness in savasana.
I suppose I don’t know yet what it means to live: not in the way that I want to live. This makes sense though; life is an action disguised as a noun so is inherently mysterious, contradictory, multi-faceted. What I do know is that I can change my life, I can change the way I live. Though I may not have the option of becoming a caveman, I do have the power to change my perception. Time, that great stressor and strainer, is but a structure I adorn with my fears. If I face them and refuse the role of coward, time will cease to be my great enemy. Time will be but a marker in the ebb and flow of my life: my life which I will spend living.
Monday to Monday, dawn to dusk: I will not allow the seasons of my life to be defined by routine panic or perpetual boredom. I will weave my story in richer themes.
I certainly am a meander-er.