I emerged from the subway to a crisp Sunday afternoon with clear skies and snowflakes on the sidewalk and as I was thinking about what chores I had to do that evening I heard a woman say, "Excuse me, do you have the time?"
I stopped and checked my phone and told her it was 4:13pm. She said thanks and I zipped up my jacket and quickened my pace toward the warm comfort of my apartment a long block walk's away.
But I wasn't thinking about my chores anymore. The way she phrased the question made me stop and think. She didn't phrase it as, "What time is it?" or even, "Can you please tell me the time?" It was "Do you have the time?"
Taken out of context, it could be interpreted in a variety of ways. Do I have the time to write the next great American novel? Do I have the time to call my parents and grandparents and friends and loved ones after work? Do I have the time to attend a concert, or go to a happy hour, or go to a new museum exhibit? What about the time to travel the world, to pursue my dreams, to live my life to the best of my ability?
Though time is potentially limitless, the time directly related to my life is not. I have a finite amount of time on this earth and damn it, every moment is going to count, going to last, and going to be committed to memory. I have time to take another breath, I have time to give a compliment, to smile, to pay it forward. But not everyone has that luxury.
It is startling to realize that I am now older than some of my high school classmates and peers at college who have passed away so young. The memories I have of them have been perfectly preserved like amber in my brain, their body and voice and mannerisms staying exactly the same even as I change, as I grow, as I experience more of the life that they will never have the opportunity to see.
What does age mean and what does it mean to become older? Does your age really define who you are? If you are in your 80s and have led a long and prosperous life, then that means you are the currently defined idea of being "old." But, if you are a teenager or in your 20s and had a fatal accident or develop cancer, does that mean that you were old as well because of the close proximity to death?
Should our age be determined in years spent or in our closeness to death? Since we don't know if we're going to die until we're dying, it's hard to measure that until after we're dead. So, this just means we have to continue using the idea of what it means to be old and celebrate each moment as if it is our last, because, not to be morbid but really, it could be our last.
It truly is a privilege to grow older, to grow up from adolescence and our teenage years and through being a 20-something and 30-something and marriage and children to raising a family and pursuing your dreams and finding your passions. It's great to see how the world has changed from when you were a child all the way up to your dying day. At least, that's part of what I'm looking forward to when I'm older. It's experiencing all that life has to offer, traveling and seeing the wonders of the world, and then looking inward and discovering the hidden parts of the soul. It's finding your place in a busy world, your own individual footprint in a city that never sleeps, and achieving inner peace. And, I'm also excited about the people on the journey with me. Or, accompanying them on their journey.
Do I have the time? Why, yes. Yes, I do.