Counting Down

|Author: Clara|

I had a lot of time anxiety as a kid. I still do to a certain extent, but I’m trying to get over it. I used to shriek at my mom in the car when it was 4:01 and we still had two minutes left to get to a 4 o’clock practice. It wasn’t her fault. The bridge was up, and I was way too intense.


I think many of us put a lot of pressure on time. We are constantly counting down. Always preceding time indicators with the word “only.” Only three months left until summer. Only four weeks until I can eat what I want when I want. Only three days until the weekend. Only two days until my brother has brain surgery. Only a couple hours until I get to see Bujin belt out some karaoke for her birthday.

Last year I studied abroad for five months in Spain. I remember telling my roommate in Seattle on December 7, 2017 that there was only one month until I would leave. I don’t remember the other probably goofy and memorable conversations we shared that night. Several months later— in May of 2018, I remember telling my friend, my tutoring student Paula, and my host mom Chari that “ya solo tengo 17 días en Cádiz.” I hate that this is a dominant memory for me. I can’t remember what I taught Paula that day or what Chari and I discussed over dinner.

Yes, time flies, but we make it fly even faster when we count down so incessantly.

Counting down creates a false sense of urgency-- of impatience that we either create ourselves or emphasize and ingrain when we don’t need to. It can build things up to more that they are worth. It creates stressful expectations that don’t always get fulfilled. It keeps us foot on the accelerator, pedal to the medal moving into the future rather than being grateful for where we are now and the progress we made today.

When I was getting ready to come to Bangalore, I tried not to count down. I made the most of the last days I was in Seattle rather than stressing about packing and the “what ifs” associated with transporting my life 8000 miles across the world. I knew it would all be okay, and it was.

This isn't to say that nothing matters and everything just magically works out, but I believe that if you have patience with time and try to make a bit of progress each day, time is less pertinent. I’ve seen this pattern in many of my colleagues in India too. There isn't always a sense of urgency for the future, there's more of a focus on what you do right now—- today. I like it.

Today I got to see a very successful NGO that works on sparking curiosity and creativity in students through fun science experiments. I learned a lot about light refraction. I made progress on modifying our GCIL report and finding more concrete data to support our solution. I helped my team work towards a good 2-minute video. I talked to one of my best friends on the phone and I ate a damn good piece of chocolate cake. Later, I’m going out with my amazing classmates that I absolutely adore. And that’s all today! Its progress.

There is a high-rise apartment building next to Cole’s Park that’s been under construction the entire time we’ve been in Bangalore. It dominates the sky driving into Benson town from any direction. Cranes. Concrete. The works. It hasn’t come up quickly, but there has been visible growth. I sure bet they aren’t modifying their progress with the word only.

Time is flying, but I don’t want to write an “only” sentence about our time left in Bangalore.

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