It is amazing how time connects the past, present, and future—how this faceless, soulless, marauding entity shapes our reality. 

I travel to the Carpathians every Spring when the snowboarders are nowhere near the mountains. This is the only time of the year when I have dangerously abundant free time, most of which I spend on calls with my best friend.

It is not that I like hiking; it is not that I love the grind of traveling on a stuffy bus in the sweltering May weather. It is just that being on the move gives me a sense of purpose—a sense of flowing with time. 

And besides, it is just another excuse to drag my friends, fears, and beers across the country to a remote villa in bear country, far away from overbearing traffic and metropolitan headaches.

As part of the travel ritual, I force my friends to visit an 18th-century war cemetery, because I am a fun travel companion. I giggle as they shudder in disgust at the sign hanging above the arched entrance: “This is the resting place for those who ran out of time.”

This dark, twisted attempt at humor, coupled with my obsession with time, rekindles a new meaning of living after every visit. It reminds me that the time left on my biological clock is counting down to an inevitable end—somewhere in the unknown future.

But my friends don’t share these concerns. There is this concept of “African time” that typifies their relationship with time. They live in slow motion, as if hurrying chews away at the time left to live. Why rush to get anywhere if you can arrive late and still enjoy yourself? 

I, on the other hand, am always in a race against time. Everything has to fit into a time-coded routine. I’d rather not hang around for an extra hour if I could be somewhere else—playing games and taking names. 

I hate the awkwardness of staring at ceilings, making small talk with strangers, and casting furtive glances at my watch as a way to get them to wrap up the gist. I can feel my biological clock winding down, as I endure yet another hour of incoherent ramblings about Burna Boy, Beyonce, or Area 51. 

Before sunrise, I head to the mountains with my Zenit-E camera to capture the landscape at the peak of the Golden Hour. I use this time to revel in the painful bliss of self-imposed solitude, with Indie music blocking out the songs of birds and the whisper of artificial waterfalls. 

While waiting for the sun to appear, my mind drifts into a space where I can think about immortality. I fantasize about basking in the Santorini heat and skinny-dipping with my soulmate in Paphos. I dream about driving my loving children to school and defending my pesky grandchildren from their frustrated mom. 

I capture a few shots of the landscape before my friends come up to the peak to disrupt the peace. I take pictures of them between gulps of beer, knowing we’ll never enjoy these moments again. 

Time is coming for us. And all we’ll have are aching knees, college debts, career goals, and an album of photographs that shall never meet daylight.

As twilight approaches, I head to the lake to envision my last days on earth. I see my frail frame sprawled out on a bed, surrounded by loved ones. There go my mulatto grandkids scampering around the bed, tripping over wires, and drawing the ire of their teary-eyed parents. 

But I shudder whenever I realize that only a few of us will enjoy the luxury of a blissful Call to Glory. The rest of us will go out in excruciating pain and violent misery due to war, diseases, or the sheer accident of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. For some of us, our only silver lining will appear as the moon’s reflection on a crocodile-infested lake.

During the journey back home, I stay awake, picturing a world without my friends. I look at their peaceful, sleeping faces as I recreate a timeline of our friendship, tracking who appeared earliest and who entered the circle late. 

But my musings come down to one thing: nothing matters when you are no longer here. This moment, these people here, these memories—that’s all that matters. 

Once you are gone, your troubles, worries, bills, allergies, and body counts will be purged. Who cares about your legacy if miseducated kids will tear down your statue in 50 years? You’ll just disappear into the ether forever—or end up in a celestial choir with 72 virgins.

As I listen to FKJ’s Die With a Smile, my thoughts wander into a world without me. How long will you remember me, my dear friend? Will your mourning stop once the new episode of Big Brother starts?

This February, these fantasies came close to becoming my reality as I handed over all my passwords and personal notes to my best friend, just in case. Don’t worry about the poor thing; we laugh about it now. 

But this experience helped me understand why someone would want to escape reality by turning off their clock prematurely. After all, we are all headed toward the darkness of eternal sleep. 

And who am I to scold you for giving up? I don’t have the shoes to walk through hell with you. I’d love to, but my demons will miss me.

Somehow, I envy the privileged few who live and leave on their own terms. After all, no matter the path I take, no matter how much I rush, the journey ends with my eyes closed, forever.

But I won’t give up just yet; time performs miracles. Who knows, I might be one more annoying Christmas party away from meeting that person who will make me smile all the way to the pearly gates. 

It is late now. I’ve just realized that while I kept an eye on my watch, the rest of my life zoomed past me. How ironic that, despite my obsession with time, I was early for everything but late for the love of my life. 

Don’t be like me. Don’t spend your Saturday evenings creating soulful playlists that you will never share with anyone. Don’t catch yourself in the mirror dressing up for your crush’s wedding on a cloudy mid-August Saturday, just because you didn’t send that love letter in junior secondary. 

Take off that watch that is weighing you down. It is all in your head. Forget about self-imposed deadlines. Forget about optimization, time management, and productivity. Forget about the past; your future is waiting for you. 

Celebrate that win, no matter how small. Take in the sunset with your lover. Argue over the carpool playlist and make up in a bathtub filled with rose petals. Chase your dreams like they will all go away once you wake up. Share memes with the gang. 

Time is your enemy, and life is not on your side. But in everything, add some urgency to your life because the party, your party, won’t last forever.

10 thoughts on “Time”

  1. I wish the last 3 paragraphs were as easy as it sounds. (For me)

    Picking that one line, It’s not even the past that bothers , it’s the future, it’s the increasing high cost of living, it’s knowing that a mortgage plan that was easy to get last year would be 10 times harder to get this year, it’s the impending doom that the world is coming to…, it’s thinking about marriage and having kids and thinking, “can I do this shit…?”

    I honestly wish I could put these things behind me and just live for today… any advice?

    1. Excellent question, No one!

      The current situation in the world is enough to discourage one from thinking of a bright future. But while I don’t like giving life advice, I can tell you this:

      I have friends in Bucha who got married while a genocide was taking place next door.

      Despite how baffling it is to see people stay so optimistic during these times, I think giving up is not an option. And think about it, the coming recession won’t be worse than the Great Depression. Yet our ancestors lived through it just to face another brutal war. And they lived through that war to face the cold war and 50 years of spontaneous revolutions.

      So if I had any advice for you, it would be to live your life regardless. As I explained in “What is the meaning of life?“, Nihilism is tempting, but you have to live for something. Maybe your family will be your ray of sunshine when the whole world is crumbling beside you.

      I’d recommend Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl.


  2. Onwuneme Basil

    Wow! Amazing piece you’ve got here. But if I may ask, is time really our enemy, is life really not on our side? Or is this a generalized statement which is not applicable to all? Yes, of a truth, I’ve and do wish for great deal of goods, dreams and achievements which I strongly believe I will get irrespective of the faces of some elderly which advises otherwise. Time is our enemy, is it, life is not on our side, really?

    1. Thanks for reading!

      Time is not our enemy, but neither is it our friend.

      Think of time as an apathetic observer; no matter what you are going through, the clock will strike 12 at midnight.

      In this sense, life is just you spending the limited time you have–until the inevitable end comes for you. That said, life, as a product of time, is not on your side.

  3. I admire how you’re able to make your words have rhythm. I find it difficult to arrange my thoughts.
    And just like the piece on Conformity, I enjoyed this too.

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