Why I’m going to stop living every moment wishing it was the next

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In the past few months, I’ve witnessed maybe two sunsets and zero sunrises. I snooze my alarm every morning before class until Berkeley Time tells me that I really do need to wake up. I attend class in bed, logging into meeting after meeting, barely finding the motivation to get up to even grab a pre-packaged meal from the fridge. 

Before I know it, it’s dark outside. I’ve missed yet another sunset, although sometimes I can catch an especially beautiful one on someone else’s Snapchat story. I live my days through a screen, telling myself that it’s OK. I’ll enjoy life once again when the pandemic ends. I just need to wait it out. 

I’ve recently realized just how damaging this mindset is. The pandemic has shattered my sense of time — removing the urgency and excitement of always having somewhere to be and something to do. However, in anxiously awaiting the end of the pandemic, I have been treating the time leading up to post-pandemic life as something merely to be endured. I was hoping that by not paying attention to the minutes and hours that made up my days, I could somehow make them more tolerable, less excruciatingly long. But by living every moment wishing it was the next, I’ve lost out on the beauty of the here and now. 

For a year now, I’ve resented the pandemic for depriving me of a “perfect” college experience. This is time I’ll never get back, I told myself. I’m wasting the prime years of my life on Zoom. However, I’ve realized that it’s not the pandemic that has sucked the joy out of my life — it’s my attitude. 

By spending every present moment of my life waiting for it to be the next, I’m making it a habit I know I won’t be able to shake after the pandemic. That’s because by then it would no longer just be a habit; it would have become my default way of experiencing my existence. My life would be spent constantly chasing after the elusive “next best moment” — a moment that would never satisfy me, even if I caught it. 

And so, I’m resolving to appreciate the moments, however mundane, that make up every day. I want to be present and aware of the passage of time — to watch the sky change color every evening, to feel the warmth of the sun as the seasons change or even to do something as little as watching a pot of water come to a boil. I want to soak in each day instead of closing my eyes and wishing it would pass by sooner. Because as Ferris Bueller once said, life moves fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. 

Contact Saamya Mungamuru at [email protected].