If you ask me how to measure life, I will tell you this.
To measure how small you are, look up at the night sky. Wait for a clear night when a new moon idles by. Remember to bring tissues; tears might be in the forecast. Then, as thousands of tiny glittering lights come into focus against the black overcoat of night, let infinitesimal rest softly against your rib cage. But be sure to set insignificant free—it has no place in your lexicon. Let space and time fill in the edges around you and put things into sharp perspective. Feel the boundless, overwhelming weight of mystery and wonder land heavy in your feeble arms.
To measure the how sturdy are the anchors of friendship and love, make a chain. Link every moment you brush up against each other in mutual thoughts of kindness and affection. Sometimes, you have to look carefully for each link. They are often welded from the quietest of voices and almost invisible gestures. Some chains are longer than you imagine, letting you drift far but never away. These are the ones that can withstand the weathering of time and tears, storms and sunny days. Hold on to these. They are the strongest.
To confirm your calculations that life is finite and far too short, walk through the tall, dusty stacks of the biggest library you can find. Crane your neck and stand on tippy toes. Stand strong against the truth that you will never, not ever, be able to read all those words. Then calibrate your aperture. Set it to precious. Read only the books most worthy of your time. Know they will be enough.
To gauge the majesty of this great Earth and the singularity of your existence upon it, spin a globe. Let your finger touch down near the poles, glide across the Tropics. Marvel at the magnificence. I should warn you: a latent wanderlust might take relief in your heart as you course the mountains and oceans. But do not dwell for too long about the places that will forever remain unseen, conversations with faraway strangers never to be spoken. They are a faulty yardstick. Grandeur is always best viewed against the landscapes and people where you have touched down and stayed awhile.
To measure the warp speed of time, have a child. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. I offer it as mere suggestion, but I honestly have not found another way. Two lives, separated by decades, strolling in tandem through time—it is a nonpareil adventure. Some days, your watch will stop unexpectedly. You’ll tap the timepiece with an ear angled down, checking to see if it’s still working. And then, moments later, you will look up and wonder who set it so far ahead of where you just were. You’ll question why it’s running too fast. You’ll understand why you’re often left breathless and wanting more.
How do you measure a life? Do you focus more on the grandeur or the granular?
Copyright (c) 2015 Kristen M. Ploetz