Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What "Every Moment Matters" Used to Mean, and Why It Doesn't Anymore

When I first got an online journal way back in 2006 (before college), I found a popular meme that I really liked:

To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.
To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of ONE WEEK, ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of ONE HOUR, ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realize the value of ONE MINUTE, ask a person who just missed a train.
To realize the value of ONE SECOND, ask someone who just avoided an accident.
To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND, ask the person who won a silver medal at the Olympics.

At the time, I loved this quote. I thought it was creative and brilliant and it really spoke to me. Back then. Not anymore. 

Why? Because back then, it was never about living every moment in ways that you didn't feel like living. It was never about dragging or pushing yourself to do things you weren't up for. It was never about pushing yourself to be happy when you didn't feel happy. It didn't mean you couldn't grieve for a long time or feel angry for a long time. It was not about forgetting the past and living in the moment. And it was definitely not about being responsible for your own feelings and happiness. This quote did not mean that happiness in a given moment was your choice.

What this quote DID mean to me, and why it really touched my heart, was that we should be able to do what we want and that it was wrong to oppress anybody by taking their time away from them and forcing them to do things that they don't want to do. It meant that the years of my life that I wasted in school mattered, in the sense that they should have been mine. It meant that when the end of the school year was approaching and my parents and teachers told me to "hang in there" when I wanted to quit studying and just have fun - those months mattered. Those weeks mattered. Those days mattered. You can't say, "It's only two more months, two more weeks, two more days till finals are over." There is no "only." That time was precious. That time belonged to me. That time should have been mine to spend the way I wanted. It meant that when I had to spend an hour doing homework when I wanted to spend that hour playing with my toys instead - that hour mattered. That hour was a big deal, and it should have been mine. The whole business of, "You can have fun after you've done your homework" was basically saying that those hours, minutes, and seconds of my life did not matter, that it was okay for me to have to do things I didn't want to do in that time. 

THAT is why I always loved quotes about every moment mattering. I felt like they were on my side. In every argument I had with my parents about wanting to just have fun and not go to school or do my homework, I felt like these "every moment matters" quotes were on MY SIDE, backing me up. They were telling adults in my life that those moments mattered, that my time was a big deal, and that I was right to not be okay with my time being stolen. That was why I initially liked this quote. That is why I WOULD continue to like this quote and to believe that every moment matters, if this was what it meant. 

But that's not what it means anymore. Now it's all about liking what you do as opposed to doing what you like. It's about being happy at every moment in spite of people oppressing you and stealing your time from you. If every moment really matters, then stop taking other people's moments away from them.

I don't believe that every moment matters anymore. If I believe that, it means I'm taking on responsibility for my own feelings, which I will never do. I am happy due to external circumstances, and the only way I would believe that every moment mattered would be if I could have chosen to be in circumstances that made me happy whenever I wanted. But every adult has taught me that my time does not matter, and most people nowadays who say that every moment matters are the people who will drag me out of my house and not accept that I'm still upset about things in the past.

Nowadays, the only way to grieve for a long time and take long periods of not functioning and feel how you feel about everything and take no responsibility for your own feelings is to decide that every moment does not actually matter. So, I guess that's where I stand now. I don't place any sort of value on my life or my time anymore, because that would just mean I have to do stuff. Wake me up when there's a cultural shift and that quote can mean what it once meant to me. It sure doesn't mean that anymore.

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