I heard a quote once that read something like, "time is the only thing you can give that you can't get back." Of course, that's what makes time spent serving others, or even taking care of yourself such a gift. The problem is, some of your time will be spent in ways you don't have much control over.
Yes, you can control (to an extent) your attitude which impacts your experience during time spent, but ultimately, how all of your time spent isn't up to you.
I've struggled with this concept a lot over the past year. With being sick and having surgery, my time has naturally had to be spent differently than it would have otherwise. Time in pain, time in the hospital, time recovering, and time to say "no" to things that I wish I could say "yes" to.
At least once a week I have a moment of near panic that I seem to have lost this past year of my life. It's gone fast, so fast, when I look back at the time as a whole. Perhaps this is a blessing when you're going through something so difficult. But the days, especially the hard days, drag on if that makes any sense.
It seems like a cruel joke that time really does fly when you're having fun, but it halts when you're suffering.
Years ago, if you'd ask what my life would look like when I was 27/28, it wouldn't have involved recovering from a major surgery and dealing with the lifelong consequences of that surgery.
This is the time of my life I expected to be married with kids, or at least continuing what I was doing before I got sick: going out and spending my time as I please, having fun with friends, and just generally being a "young and healthy" person.
In many ways, the expected vibrancy of this time of my life seems to have dissipated.
I wrestle with the concept that while I needed the surgery to live, which therefore adds years onto my life, the last eight months have been so hard and in dark moments I'll wonder if "losing" this time was really worth it. (It is).
These eight months have passed as they needed to; I've had surgery and been recovering from it as you need to.
No one expected me to be back to a "normal life" by now, but accepting that this year has been spent in a way I didn't choose proved very difficult and it's been forcing me to let go of expectations left and right.
When I miss out on doing things all my friends are doing because I'm too sick or too weak to participate, I feel mad, and I feel sad - like when you're five years old and your parents send you to bed but you want to keep playing. I feel like I'm missing out on time well spent, or at least time spent how I WANT to spend it.
The rational part of my brain reassures me that I've spent this time exactly as I needed to, and I have so many more years to look forward to thanks to this difficult year.
Most of the time, the rational part of my brain has control. (Of that thought, anyway). But there are times when the childlike, less rational part of my brain is mad at myself and mad at the world for this past year.
Thinking big picture, "losing" one year isn't so bad. But on a smaller scale and through the lens best to examine my life, it feels unfair. AS IF life is fair for anyone.
Besides, even considering what's happened the last year, I am still one of the luckiest people on earth.
I've also realized the only way to learn lessons and gain experience is by spending time.
And the time I've spent this last year has been overflowing with lessons and experience I could have never had otherwise, and the lessons and experiences from this year will ultimately make other years better.
I guess sometimes the time that is "forced" upon you, i.e., the difficult times no one would ever CHOOSE, is the time that teaches you how to enjoy the time you spend as you please.
Now the times in my life spent feeling good and doing things that make me happy never go unnoticed. "Good days" are that much better because I have the bad days to compare them too.
And the time that passes during those hard moments has become the greatest teacher; its voice in my head reminding me to "soak it in" when I'm feeling good
Hard times make the good times better.