Just in time: A personal essay

Sam Ku/Courtesy

I am obsessed with time. The ticking of the clock is constantly in my ear, and I am always racing, always behind, fighting to fill up each moment with contributions and accomplishments and meaning. The drive to secure my legacy before I run out of time consumes my thoughts, steals my sleep and haunts my dreams. The world conspires against my need to transform it before I go, and I cannot reconcile myself with this injustice.

In order to eliminate the power that time holds over my life, a power that stems mainly from my preoccupation with success and victory over the threat of time, I committed myself this semester to redefining my relationship with joy and feeling content with myself as I exist in each moment. In doing so, I have created a compelling legacy of memories that each indicate a different origin for meaning and purpose. I now catalog those memories, and my reflections upon what they suggest, here.

I am not constrained by the sharp boundaries of my body. I make up everything I see and touch. I am the I in everything: the burn of the stars, the coldness of the steel, the swipe of the cheek. The universe is my reflection, and I contain an infinite number of universes.

I blink away tears as I play “Elegy” by Arno Babajanian at the fall showcase for The Golden, the feminist theater company I co-founded with my best friends. Each note on the piano draws forth the image of a woman, body strewn across the floor of the River Arax, across the bed of my forefathers, across the ocean pursuing America. We all share the same spirit of the indomitable Armenian woman, and our collective voice reverberates throughout the performance hall and throughout history. I feel each of these women within me — I am every woman, and so my soul is eternal.

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Sam Ku / Courtesy

My friends and I huddle underneath the blankets in our too-small bed in Yosemite, limbs entwined and noses buried in crooks and hands grasping tightly whatever is found. I hold back tears as I think about how their love has saved me and how we have saved one another. In this moment I am whole and content and all that matters is that when I drape my arm around my friend she grabs on. This love — solid, secure, safe — melts all other fears away. It forms the everlasting bedrock for everything else.

I am not a straight line directed at the sky. I am an infinitely expansive, constantly evolving universe unto myself. In each moment I am perfectly whole, never searching, only transforming. And in each moment I am beautiful and I am enough.

I lie with my back pressed to a boulder at the top of the gushing waterfalls of the Sierra National Forest. The currents dance about me, and the sun’s rays continually kiss my body. I feel the swell and fall of the water deep within me as I dissolve into my surroundings. While enveloped in the warm embrace of nature, I reflect upon how I am an equal with the rocks, streams and trees around me. The Earth is our mother, and we are her children, imbued with the same spirit that transmutes constantly in form yet connects the entire world.

I am made up of the strings that attach me to an infinite number of universes, unbounded by space and time. Each connection is so heavy, burdened by the richness of the sticky core of my life’s meaning.

The other audience members and I sit upon the edges of our seats, wholly enraptured by Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3. The music is all around me and comes from within my soul. It carries me on a journey of the universe, and I am entirely transformed upon returning. We escape from the world, and in doing so, discover the magic that always resides there.

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Laure Barthélemy / Courtesy

I go to my friend’s apartment after learning of my dad’s heart attack. It is so difficult to reach out, and so easy to be caught halfway through, by the gentle embrace of a friend. When death suddenly feels so imminent and the givens of life are toppled, this is the only thing that is certain and clear — this affection given without question, this connection that grounds us into this world and triumphs over the looming threat of death. The universe giveth as it taketh away, but the ties we form here prevail, leaving their grooves upon the bedrock of the earth and the couch where we hold one another.

My purpose is aimless. I measure success by the number of times I forget to keep track of the time. I leap, I prance, I shout, to no one, to nowhere, but to the calling of my soul.

My friends and I run. We fly through Telegraph, we sprint through Sproul, we blow past the trees, we leap across bridges, we soar through alleyways. We know (nor care) not where we run to. We are uninhibited, and all that matters is that the wind carries us forward and the skies listen to our shouts and our hearts beat in our ears. Thump, thump, thump. Directionless, boundless, yet our hearts keep time.

My friends and I sing. Taylor Swift lyrics melt into Hamilton raps and Harry Styles pop anthems. We sing for no one but ourselves, and only the Earth witnesses our blissful freedom as we leap across the kitchen floor. We sing for the world, with every ounce of our beings, and the Earth smiles and nods in turn.

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Laure Barthélemy / Courtesy

I offer an alternate vision of Truth. I tear down the infrastructure, the institutions, the cold cement and the tick-tick that carve sharp lines and geometric structures onto my body. I transcend the skyscrapers and clock towers.

If I defy the organization offered by time and space, if I assert the infinite life and breadth of my soul, then where are my roots? In what do I ground myself?

I am tied down to the earth by the people I love. We are each expansive, always evolving, transmuting, traveling, growing. We contain universes unknown to one another. Beethoven, Babajanian, the waterfalls of the Sierra National Forest — these worlds are entirely my own. Yet my loved ones and I are inexplicably attached by strings that bleed into the soil and transform this Earth into a home. They yank us out of our inner selves to recognize the grandness of the people around us, the depth of all that we share. The people I love contain universes, yet we build roots together. And that is the real magic.

Contact Lillian Avedian at [email protected].

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