Small Infinities

You know that famous line,

“Love, actually, is all around.”

Yes, it’s from “Love Actually”, the movie that I always make sure to watch every year.

Just a few days ago, I dropped off my family members at the airport so that they could return to Korea. I promised myself that this time I will not cry, but I broke that promise yet again. As soon as I saw my family members in tears, it was inevitable that my unprotected wall of self-control would crumble down to emotional downpours.

Before we bid our goodbyes, I saw several families doing the same as we just did. They kissed each other’s cheeks, embraced each other in tight hugs, and looked into each others’ eyes as if talking in secret language, telling each other that they will soon meet again. It was like watching the beginning and ending scene of “Love Actually”. I knew the time for our own goodbyes would soon come, but I didn’t know that time would fly by, even faster than I could blink. Because just yesterday I was greeting my family at the airport and bringing them over to the new house.

When something you care so madly about is parted from you, all you can think about is that one thing and what more you could have done to make more memories you can hold dear to your heart. The thing is when they were here with me, I felt like time passed by too slowly. But now as I reflect back on the times that we laughed and argued, I feel like I didn’t spend my time wisely. I feel like I didn’t cherish enough time.

I would now like to quote the brilliant author John Green.

“There are infinite numbers between 0 and 1. There’s .1 and .12 and .112 and an infinite collection of others. Of course, there is a bigger infinite set of numbers between 0 and 2, or between 0 and a million. Some infinities are bigger than other infinities. A writer we used to like taught us that. There are days, many of them, when I resent the size of my unbounded set. I want more numbers than I’m likely to get . . . You have me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.”

I can’t explain how true and authentic this is. It was just a month of spending time with my family that I haven’t seen in a while. The days were numbered one through thirty. I don’t know how well I spent them; only my memories will be the judge of that. It seemed like forever as I was journeying through those thirty days, but now that the journey has come to a halt, I realize that my infinity was a lot smaller than I thought. Of course, I am already privileged enough knowing that I will be able to see my family again and that I have all the love I need from my family. But they are thousands of miles away from me, which means more time that will be taken away from me that I could have gotten to see them.

The thing about time is that it never bends to your wishes. No, you can’t go back a few minutes or even seconds just because you messed something up. And no, you definitely can’t replay that special moment of happiness because that’s life. Life is a game of fairness and unfairness, and you are the piece that will learn to balance those two elements. Most of the time, it will feel as though time is playing an unfair game of chess against you, a game that you are sure you will lose. I lose most of the time against time, I think. I mean, if I have the slightest feeling of regret over something that occurred, that tells me that I have lost.

But then I remember what John Green wrote.

Time is just numbered. And there are moments of infinity embedded into the seconds and minutes.

It’s about gratitude and reflection, for me at least. My mind gets clouded by the “what-ifs” at first, but then I tell myself that I had just experienced something great. I get to live my life one small infinity at a time. I get to taste a slice of life that I get to control. I am not going to use the word “never” right now because its usage is inevitable. So instead, I will use the phrase “try not to”.

Try not to wish that you could have done something. Instead, try to remember the delicious flavor your sweet memories hold because only you will know their true, authentic taste.

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