Junctions in time; how we count and track years and time by significant points in life. Without these significant moments, time can feel lost, untraceable, unreliable and fleeting.
The past ten years of my life are easily divisible in chunks of years: after high school I took a year off to do all the things I felt I had missed out on. Later that year, I grew restless and I registered for a couple of general admission courses at the university where I hoped to go the following year. I wasn't accepted that year, so instead I spent the next year chasing passions I never knew I had - I became a certified yoga instructor and spent a great number of hours working social inclusion programs for children and youth.
After those two years away from an institution, marked by rewarding work and a year of yoga training, I was accepted into my program of choice. The four years of university are a bit of a blur but they still count as four significant years of educational immersion. Following those, I spent two years working rigorously on an extra-curricular project - designing and building a solar powered house to compete in California. They were demanding and difficult years, but I met a lot of brilliant people along the way and they marked stages of the project with unequivocally memorable moments.
"A treasured memory is the lasting gift of time well spent." Tim Fargo
It has now been almost four years since we returned home from California, and I get a bit lost in those years. It's hard to grasp in the big picture that I've been out of high school for a decade. But when I break things into manageable chunks, it is a little easier to see where my time has gone.
Looking forward, I find myself often concerned about what things will mark my time. There are no pre-determined or major events lined up like consecutive years of school. I don't expect to complete a masters in school and I have yet to consider looking forward to my own wedding or starting a family as most people tend to once they've finished university and started their career. I worry that, what if, from here on, only bad things will mark my time - the loss of family members, the growing apart of school friends, the ups and downs of a career driven life, or even the decline of my own health.
So I remind myself of the importance of creating my own significant memories, to capture and count my time. They may be small things, but they're comparable in experience if I allow myself to really flush them out and enjoy them. For example, my brother was wed in May this past spring. I built a trip around it - giving myself time before and after to relax, visit with family, and to appreciate my surroundings. I took enough time off to have an experience that absorbed his celebrations, thus capturing it as a more significant period in my life - something that I personally related and connected to, and could remember as a period in time, rather than a single day.
I still look back at photos of myself from that day and think: "wow, that is the happiest I have seen myself in years!"
This fall, I celebrated what I touted as my third mountain anniversary! Three years ago, fresh off the plane from California, I barely felt human. A good friend took me to the mountains for a break from the bustle and the chaos. I still look back at photos of myself from that day and think "wow, that is the happiest I have seen myself in years!" That day marked when I really, truly fell in love with the mountains. I returned to that same place this fall, to mark it in my own history. It is a mark of something new and growing, and it initiated a memorable count of something significant in my life.
"It's these moments that count...
these fleeting memories suspend in time...
when the room spins with noise and movement
you remain perfectly still
absorbing everything around you...
remembering that this is your life
and that it is absolutely amazing."
EJC, Emily Jenny Cholakian
When we look at our history in books, we remember not individual days or moments. We don't even remember years simply for years. We remember the big events that happen within them. We remember decades, phases, eras, trends and big occasions or turning points. Sure, there's something to be said for making every day a memorable one worth living but maybe we could all relax, re-focus, and start to mark the time passing us so that when we do reflect, our time embraces the most memorable, rewarding periods of our growth, ambition and significance.
I inadvertantly dubbed 2015 "the year of hats": the hats I wore, and the hats I collected - quite literally, it was the first time in my life that I actually felt that I looked good wearing hats, but more figuratively, it was the year I began to recognize that my talents are multi-faceted and far-reaching. This was the first time that I marked a year as so expressly being about a single thing.
2016 was very clearly "the year of rainbows". Poor weather in the province coupled with my stubborn need for adventure resulted in my witness of so many rainbows, most experienced in the mountains. I have never seen so many rainbows in one year. I have never yearned for the gold at the end of the rainbow so enthusiastically, either!
2017 is quickly earning itself the title of "the year of highways". Highways to trailheads, highways to family, highways from here to there - a mark of extraordinary travel. I'll be spending a lot of time on and along highways this year, and I'm thrilled to see where they may take me.
Photos are my own. Please do not reproduce without my written permission.