In the scope of human history, ten years seems slight. A wink of time, a tiny turn of the wheel, a nudge along, a microcosmic tickle of the universe’s great sundial. What’s the big deal?
It’s just ten years.
Lives have been lived, surged, crested, crumbled, created, lifted, and lost. The world changed, fought, dreamed, mourned, invaded, attacked, resisted, bettered, and worsened. Ten years of discovery. Ten years of laughter. Ten years of faith. Ten years of failure. Ten years of tears. Ten years of love and hate and joy and pain and all those diametrically opposed nouns they put into pining ballads that the coked out rock stars think are meaningful.
It’s not just ten years.
It is a long stretch of everything in the short life of a person. It is a tract of time which cannot be retread. It is irretrievable and unforgettable. It is ten years of conversation, ten years of medical tubing, ten years of burnt rubber, ten years of moldy refrigerators, ten years of coursing adrenaline, ten years of last calls, ten years of rewrites, ten years of deadlines, ten years of scampering, ten years of dancing, ten years of clever montages, ten years of vacillating between sedentary and hyperactive, ten years of candied pop confections which rot the molars of good taste, ten years of obscure masterpieces which we — no — which they will admire ten years from now and wonder, “Why didn’t this get the attention it deserved?”
It’s never just ten years or merely a decade. There is nothing mere about it. The very words ‘ten years’ are frail and apt to be bullied by their own meaning.
I’m not going to ask what the last ten years meant to you because I can barely fathom what they meant to me. I can only scratch at the surface like a cat trying to get into a metal can of semi-tuna. It hurts my brain to try and consider the length and breadth of all I have done, thought, dreamed, or wrought in ten years. The notion of gleaning awareness of its entirety is a tangle of kelp around my toes. Ten years is an ocean. I was once on the other shore, now I’m on this one. I swam across it, perhaps drifted in places, perhaps helped by the tide, and, in a few spots, almost succumbed to the undertow. But I can’t really tell you what’s beneath the surface. It’s a wonder I got across at all.
There would be nothing mere, or just, about that, either.
(originally posted as a Facebook note, on January 13, 2011, after a trip to Barrie)