"Life continues beyond our worst moments"Georgia Capewell

My friend and I find comfort in telling each other that time isn’t real. Neither of us are approaching even amateur level quantum mechanics so our take is rudimentary. However, when I caught myself checking the time on my phone for the fifth time in that many minutes, I realised why we might find so much comfort in this physics-appropriated maxim called time. And during a stage of life saturated with seemingly time-limited goals, it makes for a day punctuated by both the anxious checking of deadlines and existential crises about the transience of your twenties.

“A year and a half in, the gown still feels like a costume”

I’m allowing the ambivalence I feel towards being halfway through my degree. The lapse in time we experienced as freshers under lockdown transforms term into an eight-week-long to-do list, hurriedly checking off aspects of uni life we may have missed. I find I’m often trying to catch up with myself- a year and a half in, the gown still feels like a costume, and I know that a year and a half onwards the graduation robe will too. To me, halfway hall feels a lot like circling your own birthday in the calendar- reminding yourself you’re here, no matter how much you believe it.

When my mum recently asserted that “there’s nothing more comforting than the tick of a clock’’ I gasped with disagreement- who wants to be reminded of the seconds passing us by? The apologies for running a few minutes over the allotted lecture time, the 2x speed function on Panopto and the fear that you and your cinnamon bun have overstayed your welcome in a busy cafe presents a life that has this ticking as its soundtrack. It’s easy to see why many of us relate to the ‘revenge bedtime procrastination’ concept, describing sleep as the battleground over which the final opportunities for free time fight against otherwise frantic days.

As I write this, a friend proclaims her ‘’self-care queen’’ status to me - she has washed her hair and done some laundry. It’s only week three and already she feels the need to justify the half an hour that basic needs take up, perhaps of no surprise in an ‘academically rigorous’ institution that fosters these unhealthy habits. More profoundly, our lives are backdropped by the narrative surrounding global warming which is justifiably time-pressured, transforming the ‘’where do you see yourself in ten years time?’’ interview prompt into a question of the Earth’s survival rather than a test of employability. How do we answer?

“My worldly ambitions don’t have to be realised over the next one and a half years”

It’s easy to imagine an idealised alternate life: unbound by time constraints, creating a state of permanent mindfulness. You could bathe in your stream of consciousness and have the time to do everything you’ve put on hold. I mourn this dreamy other life like I do the pillow every time my morning alarm sounds.

Yet, as halfway hall approaches, I’m aware of the days that I’ve previously wished would speed by (including, but not limited to, the entirety of week five). It’s frustrating to know that even these times will be looked back on nostalgically. Of course, it’s natural that some moments are gladly left in the past but the difficulty is knowing which ones they will be in the present.


Mountain View

Reflections on ‘Time Lived, Without Its Flow’

In The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera describes “man’s plight” as the freedom and fear that comes with a life on Earth that many believe to be one-time-only. Thankfully, it means life continues beyond our worst moments. In exchange for this solace, our best moments are also unrepeatable - but that’s their currency. Between the highs and lows, we are lucky to endure the most mundane of minutes because, as the ironically short-lived ‘YOLO’ fad teaches us, they leave as quickly as they arrive. We don’t have to romanticise their every second, we just need to live in them. It’s a privilege to have time to kill.

So my goal for the rest of my time here is to embrace the empty space of lecture overruns and overstay my cinnamon bun’s welcome. Most importantly, to learn to stop with these moments for a while. In an age where we’re told to make as much lemonade as we can squeeze from the lemons of life, we’re also urged to drink it all before it’s too late. As I’m reminding myself that all my worldly ambitions don’t have to be realised over the next one and a half years, let me remind you that life does not always have to be squashed into the neat boxes of a daily planner. Drink the lemonade slowly.