My first lesson of being 26 is that some things can wait a little, which is why this post is two days late. This past Wednesday, to much anticipation but minimal fanfare, I crested over the hill of my mid-20s and quietly celebrated 26 years of existence.
Time is a common theme in my sparse body of past writings and usually bubbles up as a deviant actor or villain. Time is the ultimate enemy and in the past, celebrating its passage has proved a trying exercise of resolving cognitive dissonance; why am I expected to celebrate the triumph of evil?
If last year’s celebration of my quarter century was a spiritual awakening or reckoning of sorts, through which I grabbed time by the horns and decided to dominate it, this year was perhaps a spiritual quietening.
Amidst my birthday reflections, I finally resolved to an appreciation of time’s duality as not only an enemy but also a friend. I have experienced the two-faced nature of Janus, the Roman god of time. While time kills more effectively than wars or plagues, it is also my greatest motivator.
This past Tuesday on November 1st, one day before my birthday, I attended an Arc talk discussing life extension and the future of humanity. I learned that when posed with the choice of whether one can live 90, 120, 150 years or forever, most people choose 120. This struck me.
It follows that most people want to live a little longer, but not too long. I think most of us intuit that we could all use a little more time but that living forever or too long would be bad. There are the obvious reasons — health, aging, boredom, etc. But beyond that, I think our intuitions are driven by something more fundamental. I’ve come to believe that the scarcity of time is a defining constraint of humanity. With infinite time I don’t know what would motivate me. Thus, I’m grateful for this misfortune.
Though I don’t think I’m completely unreasonable in being weary of the passage of time, I have realized that I must be unafraid of indulging it on occasion and letting moments pass without fear. This year I look forward to forging ahead with my life while also living it.