A brief reflection on the obscure effects of time


My existence is regularly plagued by the inevitability of time.

I don’t notice it on most occasions, but my life has been fast-forwarding slightly quicker with each surpassing year. I’m embedded into the sequence of life, moving along with everything and everyone around me in a world confined by routine.

As a result, moments sometimes pass by too quickly for me to have a complete awareness of their occurrence.

Despite the hastened motion, short periods of blissful realization will occasionally sneak their way into my day, ultimately slowing it down for a minute or two to break up the usual routine. My thinking comes to a halt as my heart slows down, and my mind lays on its back. For a moment, my subconscious hands me back my breath.

It occurred the other day; a realization struck me, and my breathing slowed down as I sat, having a staring contest with the red traffic light overlooking my car.

I was alone, and the excess of silence became slightly overbearing. The light refused to change color, so I took a small glance to my right. I don’t exactly know why. Maybe I was searching for someone or something to usurp the silence for the time being.

My eyes landed on a small elderly woman. Her short, gray hair sat lightly on her frail shoulders, and she sat solemnly, staring ahead with a blank expression. I then looked to my left, where a middle-aged man sat in his seat, smiling brightly with his phone up to his ear. He appeared genuinely happy, both his smile and his eyes illustrated his emotions.

I think this is the moment when it hit me.

I wondered who was causing this snippet of joy that I was second-handedly observing, and I wanted to know why the woman’s soul was dragging in the atmosphere.

The realization of the complex existence of others overran my mind. Sometimes, when I’m stuck in the fast-paced moments of life, I often disregard the people in the background. There are people who are faded and out of focus, like someone in a car at a stoplight. I forget that they’re living a life as complicated and significant as my own, and I sometimes don’t let the reality of their existence truly sink in until I’m alone, taking a moment to look around me.

I’m stuck in my own world, but so is the old woman and the middle-aged man.

They both have lived a life full of memories and riddled with stories, stories that are filled with love, emotion, and life. These stories are laced with their own versions of sorrow and triumph. They’ve lived a whole life that I’ll never know about. Thoughts have developed in their minds that will forever go unsaid due to the inevitable creeping of time.

Both the woman with the gray hair and the man could be someone’s parent. Both her and the man are someone’s kid. But for me, they’re just people next to me in traffic.

They’re just people in the background of my life, and I’m faded in the background of their lives.

I’m just an extra in all of the blur of people, sitting next to them in traffic.

As I blatantly stared at the woman, imagining all of the moments that have accumulated to create her life, her car sped away. The light turned green, and my life reversed to its fast-motion pace once again.