Sunday, October 1, 2017

How Do You Measure Time?

Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes

Five hundred twenty-five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets

In midnights, in cups of coffee
In inches, in miles
In laughter, in strife
In five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes

How do you measure a year in the life
- Seasons of Love, Rent

I know time is moving. Moving rather quickly for my taste. However, I'm not one to realize it daily. We do what we do every day and live a life that makes us happy. It's within these happy moments, these small mundane things that hold no meaning to others, that I'm hit by the passage of time. I suddenly become aware of what time has done to us. Time has grown my babies into children, pronounced the wrinkles around my eyes, and worn down furniture (from those babies that have grown up with those pieces that could now be considered antiques).

Yesterday I had a moment where I saw the time moving before me. It was like a slow motion picture film that came across my eyes at a very particular moment. 

Our family loves hiking. It is something my husband and I did occasionally before kids and something we frequently do now as a family of five. We discovered it early on in our parenthood as something that wore our children out. It tested their abilities and our patience, yet hiking has always been something to bring us joy, with a side of freshness for living life. 

One of our favorite places to hike (near us) is Jester Park. We have been doing the same trail(s) for years now. I use hiking as a way to measure my children's growth and development from year to year. I'm always amazed at what they can do this year that they couldn't do the previous year. How their stamina has grown and how their sense of adventure evolves.

Toward the end of our favorite trail at this park, there is a small stream to cross and then a bridge. Every year, these three minis hold races across the bridge. This year was the first year that all three minis crossed the stream without issues and proceeded to have their race. I first noticed the difference as they stood on the bride. Where this bridge once seemed so large, I notice how all three minis had a hard time racing next to each other without crashing into one another. That's when it hit me. 

I was brought back to a time when there was just one racing, then two, then two with a slowly toddling little girl behind them, then three with a crying girl behind them because she couldn't keep up, to the three all vying for that coveted win. 

It was a punch to the gut. I felt my throat get tighter as I recalled when we could only do half of this trail and carrying babies back on our hips. I distinctly remember my husband and I looking at each other during those times and saying "someday we won't be doing this," followed up by a "thank god!" You know what? I am thanking god that I didn't have to carry any one of them on this latest hike. I thanked life for giving me the ability to live life every day, create memories that I can look back on and remember those precious times.

At times, it's difficult to not miss those little hands reaching for you because they're just not sure what's in the woods. My chest can get tighter as I recall a time when they couldn't hike mountains or complete a difficult trail. We stuck to those easy trails and now we're on to bigger and better things. 

[Fall 2013]

[Spring 2014]

[Fall 2014]

[Spring 2015]

[Fall 2015]

[Yesterday, October 2017]

My grandma once told me that the wrinkle lines near your eyes don't just show aging through the passage of time. The more wrinkles you have the better, because that means you've spent your years smiling. Looking back on the last few years, I can fully understand her wisdom. As we finished the trail, I looked back at the bridge and everything around it. They're changing the trail and the recreational areas around it. I smiled a half pleasure and a half hold-back-the-tears smile. This particular area that I use to measure my children's growth year to year, my growth year to year, is changing. It was so metaphorically beautiful that I nearly missed one of my children going face first into the shallow stream. At least not everything changes.