Sunday, 6 October 2013

Time Passes and Other Things

    In two days time I’ll have been here for four weeks. Four weeks in which time has passed as fast as a bullet and as slow as eternity. Days have been fragmented, elongated and cut short; compartmentalized into To Do lists, dragging lectures, leisurely coffees and long, dripping hours of nothing at all. Familiarity breeds contempt; as I slowly get used to the laissez-faire timetabling, the all-nighters and the long, empty afternoons, inertia begins to creep.

   What to do with these long spaces of blank time? I could read books; study my French grammar books with a misplaced sense of purpose; plan future adventures with like-minded travellers; I could write.

   The year abroad is pipped by a cacophony of eager professors, pompous media types and returning Erasmus students, their faces glowing with the warming effect of hindsight, as recurring variations of ‘the best year of your life.’ I admit, I am young; the years behind me are muddled together in a blur of once-known places and faces and routines. They all seem much the same to me. No year seems better than another; no era particularly worth noting.

    But then I stop to think. Of all the years that have come before, the past three or four have surely been the best. Maybe in all those years of agonizing teenage boredom, of waiting for life to start, something passed me by; maybe life has already started and has started sweeping me along in a ceaseless flood. The past three years have been the best of my life and this year, 2013, has been the best of the lot.

      This leads me back to my contemplation of time and its ever-changing state. Here, in Belgium, I seem to have time in excess; there is time to gorge on, spare hours to fill as I will. The possibilities, like time itself, is endless. Maybe some element of truth sounds behind the hopeful, implausible words of those eager professors and shiny-faced fellow students: this could be the best year of my life, but probably not in the way that they imply. I could continue down the road on which I have already placed a shaky first foot and finally, fully comprehend that dreams are there to be achieved. Maybe I need to stop dreaming and waiting for life to start, and realise that it already has.

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