A snap decision comes. A season turns its back. A moment fades. After a while, the season twirls around. It flashes you and laughs, dropping its robe.
The changing seasons are often used to describe life’s effervescence. “Boy, that was a fast summer. Too fast, if you ask me! Just like life!” You’ll often hear bored co-workers, Midwestern uncles, and elderly park-sitters say this the Monday after Labor Day. They’re filled with char dogs and cliches, bunched up into themselves, and packaged in a readying stance for tinted-blue winds.
It seems a common trope, but tropes become tropes for a reason. The moment comes when you realize it does all go too quickly, seasons and life alike, and you smack yourself for ignoring their twisted up smile and half-assing that lovely bit of Great Lakes small talk.
“Jeeze, it does go by quickly. Why is that? How do you slow it down?” you think to yourself, unknowingly adding a soft whisper as you watch their befuddled face form and fade in the cumulonimbus.
Tonight, fall paused and rewound to the waning days of summer. It left me to wonder how long we actually have to live in our own time. Are our gifts always so hastily wrapped and haphazardly opened?
Life’s stated average time, measured by medical science, leaves us with about 78.5 years, but perceived time seems to grant much less. Seasons change and you wonder the question that becomes more common with age: What the hell happened to my time?
Today, an aberration, we were granted an extra few years in a span of a few hours. A bright yellow sun made newly fallen leaves into the petrified carcasses of yesterday’s fall. The smell of newly trimmed grass and grilled meats returned. Dogs were walked at a leisurely pace, happily galloping ahead of the smiles of an amused owner. Limps didn’t hurt so badly, giving a break to those who could really use one. Cares weren’t taken so seriously, cause hell, there’s always tomorrow, right?
Catching these moments of time seems a small victory worth celebrating. After all, aside from our thoughts, our time may be all we can claim to own. But ownership of time is fleeting; the more days, weeks, months, and years we build up, the fewer there are to collect.
As the sun began to burn out, I watched the west side of the sky turn blue and black. It was highlighted by pink, red and orange brushes, seemingly fire-dancing into the distance. Eddies of warm wind swirled particles of leaf carcasses into my eye, disparaging all thoughts of past and future for the love of my cornea. I pulled and rubbed and pushed my eyelid and teared up and… relief. I blinked to reassure myself. I laughed. I enjoyed the newly hazy color splashes fading into sky’s blue mass, enjoying the relief of the moment.
Soon, the startlingly cold breeze will turn into the punch-in-the-face bluster, which lets us know the clench-your-asshole arctic chill is soon to come. Is the flash of time between the seasons a synecdoche for the rest of our lives? Is the warm breeze giving us a loving caress before leaving home to escape the blistering winter?
Opening the door to my apartment, I notice the neighbor’s 80-watt lightbulbs shining from inside their living room, out from their window, and into my living room. I move toward my lamp, enjoying the nightlight lighting while dorsiflexing my foot before the final step. I briefly pause. How long has that light been on and when will it turn off again? Are they just on some lovely, absent-minded break from life’s breakneck speed, a momentary lapse of teetering on the edge of “work-life balance”?
The concept of time weighs heavy, even in the moments where it bears fruit. I move to stomp on the lamp via a floor switch, my toes curling downward. I wonder, if just momentarily, if the seasons mirror our lives. “Summer was too damn short,” I say to myself, listening to the whistling wind shake my windows.
Time elapses, the sky grows darker. My toes turn all the way down, my ankle plantarflexes, the light comes on. Summer ends, fall begins, winter draws near.