Student Blogs & Vlogs | College Study Abroad Programs, IFSA-Butler

Two versions of time

As I reach the halfway point of my studies in Chile I find it is easiest to reflect on the present and future; the past is but a series of dark rooms filled with dusty cobwebs, the “truth” a nebulous light one follows through the valley the exists between memories and desire. The future, on the other hand, is not that cliched light at the end of the tunnel that we like to think it is; that charming fantasy is the past, a track that guides us forward on the idea that what has happened must necessarily shape what will. No, the future is much more insidious, it is a wrenching feeling about how to leave the present; how to make moments stretch, elongate, and compress to reach the next moments we want to consciously enjoy and label “present”.

Right now I’m living two versions of time simultaneously. The split won’t show in this post ––though I will try to describe each experience–– and can best be described as the ground being pulled out from underneath me just as I’m settling in to enjoy the scenery.

The first is certainly not mindfulness, rather it is a desire to remain in a position to be mindful of this new area; I want these next three months to be long and full of Chilean-ness, I want them to track the sun across the sky but each in a distinct way, and, in some sense, I want home to be a word I no longer apply to the States. In many respects I’d love to remain here, explore outside of Chile and really acquaint myself with the entire continent. At this juncture I have neither the time nor money to do so ––or so we tell ourselves–– but life in Spanish is beguiling; it’s nice to struggle to articulate myself at times, to search for words, to not dominate a conversation because I’m incapable of doing so. There are, of course, other things on this timeline’s horizon; hikes in various countries, adventures, cities, and unknowns. Many, perhaps most, will not be reached in the way this timeline thinks; perhaps later in life I can graft these illusions on to feasibility, but for now the thoughts remain an appreciative slowness.

The second speed is one of realizing one is nearing the end of a sprint; it’s not that the finish is in sight and that I need to reach it for the sake of having completed  a semester in a foreign country, but that life after study abroad has particularly wonderful attractions. This timeline is a combination of the things I miss, the things I’m yet to do that do not conform to the reality of the other timeline, and things I want in my life again (this differs from purely missing something in that these are aspects of life that are not tied to specific geographic locations nor even people, at times). On this front I’m excited to have life filled with tons of laughter again ––I mean constant and uproarious–– to cook meals for myself, or just stay up all night playing mah jong. It’s one of the feelings that leads into the “it’s good to be home” sensation.

Neither is a better feeling, a more correct feeling, nor even a more desired one, but they are my multiple versions of time right now, two ways of seeing the hands on the clock turn.

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