Time Contracts Near Tragedy
My last column, a letter to my younger self, was written before the pandemic. When the world first began to realize the havoc wreaked by COVID-19, I predicted I would be reading and writing more than ever. The converse ended up being true.
Writing (my consolation) and reading (my guide in this difficult world) both took a back seat to the tried-and-true approach: living life and weathering the storm.
Writing that last sentence was more than just poetic: I’m currently working from home at a new job in a new city as the outer bands of Hurricane Sally clap against my house with torrential rain. As the research lead for Pensacola-based BioNews Insights — a rare disease analysis service — I am living a life I’ve long strived for, but never expected to achieve.
There’s a phrase commonly attributed to the notorious Vladimir Lenin: “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”
The last year of my life has moved, to put it lightly, rapidly, and has been marked by a few important moments.
Around this time last year, I started CrossFit, and began Trikafta a few months later. Right as all sports were canceled and the lockdowns started in March, I accepted my role with BioNews Insights, which eventually led to my family moving to Florida in July.
Since the pandemic, time has passed us by, though we feel mostly frozen. Every columnist writing for the publisher of this site — thoughtful, inquisitive, inspiring people with chronic diseases — has been inspired to write about COVID-19 in one form or another. The definition of a global event that will dictate discourse for years to come; there is no way around how this virus has fractured our typical understanding of the world and the social contract.
But this column isn’t about COVID-19. At least, not really. It’s about the speed at which life moves when it’s moving and the slowness of when it’s not.
Life never moves more slowly at any other time. Time is both a social construct and a physical phenomenon (bear with me, I promise I’m not high). So, while life never changes pace, time does. Time contracts and expands depending on gravity; time moves exponentially slower the nearer it is to a gravity-bending black hole.
The closest we get to that phenomenon in daily life is in proximity to a life-altering event. That ol’ cliché, “time flies when you’re having fun” has an alternative: I’m not sure there’s a cutesy way of saying it, but time seems to contract as we weather the tribulations that come with being a living, breathing human being.
I used to think everybody was as existential as me. Growing up in Indiana and Kentucky, I was utterly terrified of tornadoes when I was young. I was terrified that I would die every single time I’d hear those dreaded sirens wailing. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that fear wasn’t exactly common for all other kids.
Life, in its perpetual confusion, is a philosophical endeavor. Right now, during this uncertain time, it seems so many things are happening all the time. A strange concept, but as we live during an era that will be a part of our stories for generations to come, it makes sense to think about how much life has been packed into 2020.
This last year of my life has been strange. I guess it hasn’t been that much stranger than other years, but we tend to judge the strangeness of our lives by the canvas they are painted upon. The fabric of the world remains the same, whether a global pandemic is raging or not.
In that column I wrote to my younger self before my pandemic hiatus, my new job, and my move to Florida, I opened with the line: “Hey kid, you better brace yourself.”
That line doesn’t even begin to capture the eccentricities of life, but it’s a good start.
Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.