For children have no past, and that is the whole secret of the magical innocence of their smiles.
— The Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Milan Kundera.
It’s slightly over two years since I’d left on that gloomy and drizzly day in spring. That morning, J texted me, “Even the sky’s feeling sad over your departure.”
Knowing that I only had two months in Hsinchu, I’d tried to live every day to the fullest and making decisions was easy then. It was always: If I don’t do this now, I might never have the chance again. I guess short-term travel has made me relearn the value of time. Often, routines make us think we’ve all the time in the world. We sometimes prioritise wrongly and push important things to another day—a day that we shouldn’t be sure will arrive—and then sometimes these things never happen and never will. It’s funny how we gain awareness of time only to end up not making full use of it on the right people and on the right things.
These days, I look at kids and I smile sillily (look at how silly the word looks!) to myself. Kids have no sense of time and that’s exactly why they’re happy. They live in the moment, and they never think about the long-term because they don’t know what it is. All they want is instant gratification. They bawl when they want, they laugh heartily when they are amused, and they rest when they are tired. You could say they live in the present, but sometimes I think they’re just blessed by ignorance. As you grow old, you can’t simply unlearn everything you’ve learnt and return to being a kid. You might have lost important people in your life, or you could be regretting what could be or could have been. Or maybe you’re just tied down by responsibilities. Time would already have shown you what it is capable of.
I’m just glad I grew up during the two months and relearned the value of time. Living in the present as an adult is a deliberate choice; a choice that might be difficult to uphold, but a decision that isn’t actually hard to make—making the decision to live in the present is the first step to actually doing it.
活在當下吧。If not now, then when?