As tiny children, my cousins and I would play jump rope in their empty schoolyard. It was always great fun, mostly because we played helicopter-style, the only style I could ever manage without skinning my knees on rough asphalt. Little did we know, the metal gate we walked by everyday as children would be destroyed by their friends one night far into the future. The gate would be smashed by a Skoda after their one friend consumed too many beers.
Little did we jump-roping children could know, the driver would walk away fine, but the gate that I saw everyday would be severely dented. Confused neighbors and passers-by would see the gate and wonder: “When did this happen?” It would be a fleeting thought as they continued their way to work or otherwise intended destination. Something we took for granted and never thought about had a destiny of its own, it seems. We were linked to the gate, indirectly and inconsequentially, but linked all the same.
It feels like I was five and jump-roping only last week, and now I stand here peering through the bars, staring at the schoolyard spot that was once occupied by my cousins and I. I see ghost-versions of us though; I see inherent innocence and unconditional happiness that has now naturally shed like the skin on a snake.
Which is why I urge people to be sensitive to change. Not intolerant, afraid, or dismissive. Change is, after all, important, inevitable, natural, and above all, good.
Sensitivity here would mean acknowledgement. Pay special attention to how things are and how things once were. Life has a habit of transforming before our very eyes, and we have a habit of ignoring it.
Think to yourself: this can and will change tomorrow. Stop what you’re doing and not only embrace the moment, but recognize that it is a moment. A moment that can and will dissipate with one blink.
How long your blink is depends on how sensitive you are to change. Some people blink when they’re twenty and open their eyes when they’re eighty. Sixty-year-long blinks happen more than they should.
To be numb to change would mean to wake up one morning, find an 80-year-old face staring back at 20-year-old eyes, and wonder to yourself: when did this happen?
Not everything has to change, though. I still don’t know how to jump rope unless it’s helicopter-style.
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I posted a similar version of this roughly a week ago. And then I deleted it because I wasn’t happy with it for a reason I can’t recall. But it’s back up again, obviously, mostly as a philosophical safety net. Should my eyes ever become closed, I can read this again and wake up.
Now for a more practical update: I’m back home. By home, I mean Warsaw. The next few days will be spent here; I’ll soak up all the precious familiarity before I’m shipped off to Russia, at which point the name of this travel blog will no longer be The Squeaky Robot, but The Nothing-To-See-Here-Everything-Is-Functioning Robot. Let’s hope the domain isn’t taken.