How To Measure Your Life

Flickr / Derek Σωκράτης Finch
Flickr / Derek Σωκράτης Finch

From birth, we are taught the days of the week, the months, and the seasons. We are trained to live our lives in a timely manner, completing a checklist of items by certain ages. We get caught up in the clean slate of a new year, pretending that everything that happened yesterday or ten years ago isn’t worth our while anymore, since this year is going to totally be your year, girl. But measuring your life in days, weeks, and years is futile. Stop being happiest on Friday afternoon and most depressed on Sunday night.

Instead, measure your life in laughter. Count the heartbreaks rather than days. Measure the week in cups of coffee, not hours spent in a conference room listening to your boss talk about projected savings. Measure your life in chances taken and mistakes made. Measure it in tears shed during sad movies, in concert ticket stubs, misty Sunday mornings, and 2 am fights in the kitchen. Start over. Keep track of the number of times you packed up and moved to a brand new city with nothing but your suitcase and a one-bedroom apartment lease. Stop spending all your time reading 20-something articles. You are not just a 20-something. You’re a “figuring life out while being dumb and going to happy hour too often” – something. And while we’re at it, stop calling it happy hour. Just because you’re happy for one hour of the day doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be for the other 23. Make it happy day, week, year, life. (But don’t become an alcoholic.)

Measure your life in soul-crushing love, clumsy first kisses, and lonely yet comfortable Tuesday nights with nothing but The Voice and a bottle of Barefoot. Measure your life in the number of nights spent staring at just a pizza box and an empty apartment and compare that to the number of full houses and family reunions, baby showers and graduations. Measure your life in puppy dog eyes and Friday-afternoon bouquets of roses. Count the years in love letters and postcards, or your grandma’s button collection. Watch the home videos that were lost in the back of a closet somewhere and count the number of times your parents said your name with such conviction in their voices.

By the end of your life, be able to say “I’m 15-countries-traveled old,” or “I’m 80-Christmas-mornings old,” or “I’m countless-times-of-sneaking-into-the-movies old,” rather than “I’m x-years-old and spent every year just trying to get to the next.” Measure your life in the number of times it took you to get that chicken dish just right, or the number of sticky toddler fingers that reached up to you, and years later called you on the phone crying of homesickness from miles away. Measure the fires in the hearth and the ones in your heart.

Count the little things, the big things, the heartbreaking things, and the beautiful things. Don’t let the changing of the seasons change you. Life is not measured in time. Life is measured in living. TC mark

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