Where did the time go? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     How is it that we grow so quickly?

I find myself pondering time and its tendency to suck away the seconds from our shrinking number of years. I consider the minutes upon minutes, the moments upon moments that are strung together to somehow form a life. How is it that what happened eight years ago seems like eight days ago? How did I make it to high school with only three years left of being a teenager, when I thought I’d be spending an eternity in middle school? When did I become 54 seconds older than when I started this thought? Where did that part of my life go?

Time is a strange thing. It has no class or category, which is why I must call it a thing; no one has any real clue what it is. It is only one of those strange abstract ideas that no one can really explain, like love or death, things we will never be able to see or touch or hold. We will, however, always be able to feel their presence and each plays an integral part of our lives. We have no choice but to accept them and move on, sparing the struggle of comprehending such monsters, because deep down we know we never will. Perhaps the search for meaning is the meaning of life. As Curly in “City Slickers” explains so well, the secret of life is just one thing, but it’s up to you to figure out what that one thing is.

“You stick to that and everything else don’t mean nothin’,” Curly advises.

I like that idea. I like knowing that someday I might be able to understand it all. That someday may never come, though, and for now it is easier to believe that there really is no meaning, only ourselves and the willingness to make the best of what we cannot understand. Yet there are things we do know about time: it is always there, and it is always happening. We cannot stop or reverse it, no matter how badly we want to. We live in a one-second world, the small instance of the present in which all that has happened in the past exists only in our memories, and all the things that are yet to come lay in the enormous void of the future, unknown to us until they happen, and after a moment they will be flung into the past to join the myriad things we only can remember. Time is a strange process.

Each summer millions of teenagers prepare to leave an old chapter of their lives and fly off to start a new one, this time as adults. I will only be a segment of an old chapter in their book, never to be opened again. Having grown so close to some only to be left when they walk out the door is difficult to accept. It’s hard to say good-bye when you know you will never see someone the same way again. How did these people suddenly become grown up? When did I miss it? The truth is, I didn’t. Some may look back on their lives and realize they’ve missed everything, but I have not.

Although I couldn’t tell you the exact moment someone comes of age, I know I was there for it. In every moment I have ever shared with anyone, I have seen them grow. We belong to each other in our memories because we are witnesses to each others’ lives, and that is all we have - what we share with others. If only for a short while, I have been a part of their string of moments, and will always be a part of their life.

Maybe that is part of the relationship between time and life. Time allows us to change and grow, age and experience new things. Life is what we do with that time; it is a collection of moments that have shaped us, and so we carry them with us. I might never understand time, but I take comfort in knowing that time does not take from me, it only brings the new. If I ever feel the need for things in the past, all I have to do is remember. Time may go on, but as Maria Edgeworth says, “If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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