Accumulating Fence Posts

There’s this great passage in a book I read a while ago, I think it was a Steinbeck. Maybe Grapes of Wrath? I could also be completely wrong. It was about time and what influences our perception of how quickly (or slowly) time passes. The passage used fence posts as a metaphor. At first impression, we assume that boring, monotonous stretches of our lives during which nothing remarkable happens and we do the same routine for weeks – these are the times that will feel like they go on forever. But in actuality, it’s the opposite. The periods in our lives during which we go through new experiences, events that cause us to re-evaluate our life choices, often in quick succession – those are the time periods that actually stretch a long way in our memory. Because without these “fence posts” of new challenges to mark the passage of time, “time has nothing to hang off of.” And your life blurs by and before you realize it, you’re ten years older when you really haven’t aged at all.

At least, that’s the view on time that the passage suggested. I have to agree based on my experiences in 2014. I think I built a mile-long stretch of wooden fence posts, haphazardly staked in the ground at uneven angles. It felt like the longest year ever. And often, people say that phrase with a negative connotation, but you know, what are we in a rush for? Death? (But actually…).

This year I’ve operated on the basis of “Why not?” If an opportunity arises to which I don’t have a strong compelling reason as to “why not?” then I’d go for it. I wanted fence posts to rain down on my life! Some “why not” experiences have steered me into the paths of amazing new friends, sights, beaches, fireworks, books. Other experiences only left me with a potent answer to the question “why not.” But at the end of the day (or year), I have a clearer view of what I want, what makes me happy, what pisses me off, what devastates me – the stuff on which principles are built. And as someone who equates more knowledge with progress, I am grateful for the fence posts, collectively.

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One thought on “Accumulating Fence Posts

  1. Return of the Lost Quote | thewendyway

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