Winters are the best part of the year for me. They’re the best bits of the year’s memories stored away between tufts of blanket-filled goodness and wafting steam.
It’s easy to imagine that winter will go on forever- that either the soothing sunshine or dark evening is here to stay. The bright orange summer sun blazes the months along, and the cool white-blue of winter glazes along at a comfortable pace.
I find this relationship with time a little weird and intriguing. How we perceive some moments to be slow and find other moments flashing by; nothing like the linear tick-tock of a clock. I’m sitting alone in a coffee shop, and things seem sluggish, lazy; It’s a crowded evening in the same shop, and it feels like time itself is somehow busier.
In the 2013 film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Walter’s 40 odd years of life were spent working in the same company. His unadventurous life prompts him to daydream about being some sort of genius inventor-firefighter or skateboarding on pieces of concrete to fight for his stretchy childhood toy, to escape from his reality. We learn about his entire past in about 20 minutes.
The rest of the glorious 2 hours of the film follow him over 2 weeks as he embarks on his first series of adventures, from Iceland to the Himalayas, searching for a 35mm picture. Experiences that push him out of his comfort zone in a way that makes him a completely different person by the end of the movie- himself.
Those 2 weeks are worth 2 hours, while the years before that are just as important, mind you, make up 20 minutes. Do you see what I mean when I say some memories are more potent when time seems to go slower as you process your thoughts about the things happening?
You remember things more when time goes by slowly- maybe that’s the secret to remembering and organizing your life so that it feels like you’re not doing more, but you’re still living more. And by remembering, I want to be specific- it’s usually not things that we’re remembering. It’s thoughts and feelings, the process of being ourselves, that we’re remembering.
I mean, I understand the need to be productive in the modern world; I’m not trying to tell you to go be a sanyasi in the Himalayas. But we have this connection between doing things to feel happy that hasn’t seemed to work out for me sustainably. The reason is a little painfully obvious- having to do more things makes time fly by, thus allowing us less of an experience.
I’m not a fool to suggest that this is a linear relationship that is true for all situations- but I am enough of a fool to want to take things slowly if it could mean more joy and purpose.
After all, what are joy and purpose if not experiencing yourself in life? While pondering such questions in the middle of the night, as I am wont to do, I find myself turning once again to Ghibli movies. The Japanese studio creates meaning in every mundane magical moment in the lives they show, however important or insignificant those moments may appear.
In Only Yesterday, a beautiful slice of life animation about a city woman on vacation from work, her childhood longing to see the countryside only comes true when she starts corporate life. An hour and a half of the movie follow her flashbacks to life as a 10-year-old who experiences life in flashes of mostly mundane wonders and curiosities.
She is confused about why those moments keep playing in her mind; perhaps they have something to tell her? Her visions of those times are enough for her to reconsider her entire life. Would the 10-year-old version of her approve of the things she’s settled for? We leave her at the end of the movie as she dramatically disembarks her train for Tokyo and presumably decides to find her place in the country life she always longed for.
Maybe such memories make us pay attention to the process of our lives being lived or the process of us being ourselves. Attentively choosing things to do and digesting and reflecting on moments instead of documenting them and letting the pics in Google Photos snowball (pun intended).
Perhaps that makes us more familiar with feeling the sun, snow, or water rain down from the sky and feel entirely at peace with everything.
I don’t particularly care for this year’s winter- I’d rather it blaze into the heat of summer and have it all pass by; I don’t really want it to stay. But I might find that memories of bygone winters could help me nurse hot cocoa and cappuccinos in the hopes that the times ahead might bring memories sweeter still.
Here’s the perfect song to end this year’s time with good winter vibes: Seventeen’s ‘Power of Love.’