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chasing evening light
Why I write, and how time doesn't stop for anyone
This post was written while listening to “Evening Light” by Vansire. I recommend putting it on while you read. You can also choose to read first and listen to the song afterwards.
I’ve been journaling every day for over 6 years. I don’t know what for, I just keep doing it because I can’t not do it. I started one day and couldn’t stop. It’s become an external digestive system for my emotions, getting rid of it would feel like removing an organ. It keeps me sane.
My words are like a mesh net, woven to catch a stream of falling diamonds, but they’re tiny and there are so many of them, I keep making the holes smaller and smaller in hopes they will stay, maybe I can catch them, maybe I can slow them down, but they go and go and go. I can grieve. I can reminisce. I can write in my little journal about what happened, it will never come back. The arrow of time is a generous but merciless lover. It gives so much, sometimes more than I can handle both in beauty and agony, but it never stops for anyone.
A year ago I was sitting on the beach in Oregon, looking out over the Pacific. I had rented a hatchback for a week for a solo nature retreat. On the first day, I set out from Portland and stopped out of my way at Cannon Beach, before driving south to the middle of the state. Grabbing a handful of sand and lifting it, I watched as the grains rushed between my fingers, gently blurring in midair. There were far too many to count and they moved too fast to see, but god they were beautiful. The nature of sand is you can see it, you can touch it, but it’s very hard to control. Elusive and innumerable like the moments in our lives shuffled along the conveyor belt that is time.
Two weeks ago I was on a train from London to Paris. As I stared out the window at the blurry French countryside, I thought it looked familiar, but I wasn’t sure why. So I looked closer, I tried to catch every branch that passed—but I couldn’t. My darting eyes could freeze the frame for a second, but inevitably things would turn into indistinguishable blurs. And then I remembered. It looked just like that stream of sand, falling horizontally. I started crying, but the train just kept going and going, all the way until it slowed to a stop at the station, like a grain of sand colliding with its mound.
You know that movie Click, with the guy who has a remote that can control time? I’ve always wanted that. I don’t know if it’s because I’m slow, or my aperture for experience is set too wide, or what—but this world moves too fast. I want to pause, rewind, stay a bit longer. I can’t listen to podcasts because I always have to rewind the last thing that was said. I can’t go to museums with groups because I get stuck staring at a random painting and its details, wondering what it’s like for that to be someone’s life work. I can’t express myself well in emails or texts, but when I pick up my pen and write a letter my heart opens to tell them things I’ve never mentioned before. It makes me so honest I am tempted to throw away technology and only be reachable by post.
There is grace in slowness. There’s intimacy in it, it’s harder to hide things. I can’t do anything to stop time, but I can honor it. Remember when I talked about falling in love with the now? Well, this is it. My journals are all love letters. Just not for a person, but for the process of life itself.
I want to stay a bit longer. But it goes, and I will let it.