If I had the ability to stop time I'd want to use it right now. I am 25 years old and live in Maputo, Mozambique. I have a challenging job that keeps me on my toes, but still enough free time that I can make art and dance in the living room whenever the mood strikes. I am working on my first novel. I meditate each morning with a cup of tea in hand and 2 kittens in my lap. I adore my family and have connected with amazing friends around the world. Perhaps most exciting, I am in love.
A year and a half ago I threw caution to the wind and decided to move from Austin to Africa. Within 24 hours of moving to Mozambique, I made a decision that had the potential to completely alter my experience here - either in a disastrous or absolutely wonderful way. When I wrote this 2 weeks after arriving in the country, I had no idea which way the scales would tip, but my intuition told me that I'd was on the right path.
Now don't get me wrong - it's not like I came to Africa and stumbled upon some sort of ready-made paradise. My experience in Mozambique has certainly involved a fair share of tears, professional crises, cynicism, days when I wanted to pull out my own hair or punch one of my housemates in the face, and homesickness so fierce it makes me wonder what the hell I'm doing here in the first place. But in the end I've gotten my lessons and despite the ups and downs, I am a resoundingly happy person and only see it getting better from here on out.
So if I only see things looking up, why do I want to stop time now?
Because I've been here before. I know what it feels like to think you've got your shit together, that you've paid your karmic dues, you've learned your lessons and now it's time to reap the benefits. I thought I had it all not too long ago - the relationship, the job, the opportunities - only to have everything crumble away from one day to the next. I know that life can throw you a curve ball so fast and unanticipated that it hits you in the stomach and takes your breath away. I am afraid this will happen again.
It's sobering to realize that even now, after all the work I've done on myself, there is still a part of me that doesn't believe that I deserve all the happiness in my life right now. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, for the inevitable tragic end to this story that quite honestly feels too good to be true sometimes. The perverse part of my mind invents scenarios about plane crashes, a dozen different terminal illnesses, a freak accident. I imagine how devastated I will feel when I receive the news that my relationship and wonderful life as I know it are over.
This is the same part of me that wants to stop time right here, now, on the brink of the amazing things in my life I know are waiting just around the corner. This voice comes from a place of fear. I am afraid that I will lose all of the people and things that make me so happy. I am afraid of the sadness and the void that will remain when it is all gone. I am afraid of the pain of picking myself off the floor again, wondering if I have it in me to start from zero all over again.
In the end I know that I can't hold onto anything forever. Impermanence is a scary thing, and it is even harder to accept when you know the pain of losing something or someone that close to your heart. But it remains that nothing is eternal. Sooner or later I will, in fact, lose it all - my family, my relationship, my art, my friends, my love. It will all go away. When I am able to accept the truth of impermanence, I realize that I don't really want to stop time now. I want it to go on for as long as possible, because the joy I feel right now is worth a thousand sorrows tomorrow.