PLACES x CITIES: DOWNTOWN PORTLAND
“We are living finite lives full of infinite moments.”
They say we can’t stop time, but what if they’re wrong?
The air thickens as a cool fog rolls lazily through the city. I hear the sounds of cars revving through puddles and the quiet pitter-patter against the surfaces of my world. Raindrops fall gently onto the skin of my arms and fingers, droplets ricocheting onto the white of my coffee cup, washing away with it the dirt of yesterday’s past. Sitting outside on Parisian-inspired chairs at the corner café, I watch as passersby rush to and fro trying to avoid the inevitable wet. I take a sip of my sweetly bitter (but never bittersweet) Americano, the act of which ignites and pleasurably overwhelms all of my senses. The feeling of heat radiating against the tips of my fingers, the wisps of steam rising and dissipating in the heavy air, the deliciously intoxicating aroma that engulfs my surroundings, the warmth on my lips and that sweetly bitter taste on my tongue.
And there’s a moment in the midst of it all, when my bottom lip touches the edge of my cup and I’m taking it all in – the air, the people, the movement, smells, tastes and changes of sensation against my skin – where time just seems to infinitely slow. For a brief moment in time, time itself is at a standstill. The air that I’m breathing into my lungs feels powerfully limitless, and for a second, the only things that cease to exist in this world are these sounds, sights, thoughts and my beating heart. Yet as quickly as it comes, it passes. I lower my Americano, a familiar and comfortable clink of cup to saucer.
In contrast to that moment, as the world around me resumes and comes back to life, I don’t think I’ve ever felt tinier or more insignificant in the grand scheme of things that is the history of humanity, nor have I ever felt such a surge of energy and hope at the endless possibilities out there in this great big world, if only I dare reach out and grab them.
Time is simply what you make of it. We are living finite lives full of infinite moments, in which the concept and reality of time depends solely on what our minds choose to perceive at any given moment. As humans, we can consciously control how fast or slow we choose to take in our surroundings and life’s little moments. We can consciously control when we decide to stop and breathe, to be more aware and focused, and remind ourselves to live in the moment, all of which, in a sense, controls our own reality of time. We might not be able to slow down the entire world, but we can slow down the moments we are living in. And those moments will continue to echo through the test of time in their own little infinities, even after we’ve long forgotten them.
Because “Some infinities are [simply] bigger than other infinities.” – John Green
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