Tuesday, November 20, 2012

How do you measure

You can measure the passage of time in pretty much anyway you can imagine, the least imaginative of all being the counting of actual seconds/minutes/days/weeks, etc (that being said, I’ve been in Samoa for 111 weeks now, only 2 weeks left). And as much as I’m a stickler for being early to everything, I’ve come to consider time a fairly abstract concept because of how we measure it. Even the measuring doesn’t matter so much, because we usually notice time most in its absence – once it’s gone or there doesn’t seem to be enough of it. “If I had one more day, I could have done…” “there just isn’t time to…” When I first came to Samoa, time had a huge presence in my life. Everything mattered because I had made a lengthy commitment and this was only the beginning. I lived my life in differences by comparing my newly acquired life to what I was absent from. I could measure my schedule in terms of favorite TV shows, weekly routines, and holidays because I had so much time here to think about what I had left. I had no idea what I was coming to, but I could sure tell you what I had left behind.

However, time is also a very strong neutralizer, and eventually new turns to normal, the past recedes, and everything seems ordinary. That took about a year for me, mostly because I was so resistant to accepting certain parts of my life here (you really mean I have to live with all this noise?!). Now, one of the hardest things for me is to think about what two years back in the States might look like. I told my parents the other day that I feel like I’ll be coming home in the middle of “Back to the Future,” and in some ways, I really will be (I’m pretty sure my watch is smarter than my phone here). Two years in, it doesn’t feel like I’ve spent two years away from the US. My life has been my life the entire time I’ve been here – where has all the time gone?

Just for grins, I’m going to measure time in headlines – one a month for every month I’ve been in Samoa. This is what has happened the past two years, do you remember?

October 2010 – 33 miners rescued in Chili after spending 69 days trapped in a mine

November 2010 – scientists at CERN trap antimatter for 1/6 of a second

December 2010 – Repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

January 2011 – Arab Spring starts with death of a street vendor in Tunisia

February 2011 – Major earthquakes continue to shake Christchurch

March 2011 – Japanese earthquake and tsunami

April 2011 – Royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton

May 2011 – Osama Bin Laden found and killed in Pakistan

June 2011 – Volcanic eruption in Chile disturbs air traffic across the South Pacific

July 2011 – Two terrorist attacks in Norway at a government center and a youth camp

August 2011 – US credit rating downgrade to AA+

September 2011 – Occupy protests start

October 2011 – Steve Jobs dies

November 2011 – Penn state football scandal

December 2011 – Samoa moves west of the IDL, skipping December 30th

January 2012 – Italian cruise ship capsizes

February 2012 – Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II

March 2012 – Putin wins presidential election in Russia

April 2012 – 8.6 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia, with an 8.2 aftershock

May 2012 – Tornado season wreaks havoc across the US

June 2012 – Massive wildfires throughout southwest US

July 2012 – Summer Olympics begin in London

August 2012 – Curiosity rover lands on Mars

September 2012 – US embassy attack in Libya

October 2012 – “Perfect Storm” hits the northeast coast of the US

November 2012 - Obama re-elected President of the US

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