The Great Countdown
Eastern skies brim with light, streetlights flicker, until one by one, they switch off, leaving only the pale sun to illumination the empty roads. It is early, coffee steeps in an old French press, I rub the sleep from my eyes with fingers cut and callused from a summer spent climbing. Typically, the only prospect powerful enough to pull me away from sleep before sunrise is the idea of climbing or hiking in the seclusion of the alpine bubble, but today, I’m working. More precisely, I am working before work, because at some point in the last few years, I have become extremely busy.
My life has become a cycle, a sort of thought loop, and each day, like a broken record, I flounder through a full time job and all of the adult responsibilities that are painfully necessary yet steal away my time. In the days before hours and minutes, life simply happened. Days faded away into night, and the seasons shifted, seamlessly, without the constant nudging of an inevitable countdown. Now, we live in the age of the great countdown, our language is littered with terms like “bucket list” and Internet click bait tantalizes us with articles and images of places “You Must See Before You Die.”
It is glaringly clear that our lives are slowly ending and that we are dying, one day at a time. With this knowledge, we trudge out into the world, we drive to jobs that we hate, and we stare at the clock, hurrying along the hours of our lives, willing them to move faster and faster. Our lives are dictated by a value prescribed to paper and our time has become a commodity to trade, our happiness is something we can sell.
At an hourly rate, our lives are sold to someone else, usually for a purpose so abstract and removed that, as individuals, we identify only with the bi-weekly additions to our bank accounts. As time ticks down, our days and nights spent working, tucked away in an office, add up. We spend time staring at these “Must See” places lit up on screens that we sneak peaks at between data entry on Excel spreadsheets; however, when our moment comes to adventure, to actually see these places, we cower behind the notion that our time is valuable in a mere monetary sense.
At some point we must trade our time for the goods to sustain life, yet, work, while both gratifying and necessary, cannot be the ultimate destination for our constantly diminishing hours and minutes. It is crucial to slow down, to use your time for a cause that is entirely your own, even if, for the moment, that merely means taking the morning off to watch the sunrise.