Time Moves On and So Will We: A Personal Essay


These are the trees outside my window that continue to make me feel alive during lockdown. Recently, I have been sitting near my window and listening to the birds while I do schoolwork.

Meg Kennedy, Staff

Kairos and Chronos time are the two ways the ancient Greeks understood and categorized different states of time. Chronos, being sequential or chronological, is time we experience and understand with the use of clocks or calendars. It is extremely linear and feels almost tangible. In contrast, Kairos time is seen as more open and free. It is limitless and very circular when compared to Chronos time. The Greeks understood that as humans, we limbo between these two states of being and that alters how we experienced time and life. They balance each other in their openness and certainty.

I write this as a high school senior, who just in her last year has experienced both the definitive nature of Chronos and the freedoms of Kairos. In this time, I have seen both the good and bad natures of both. From September until March, my life felt so definite. I would wake up every day and that day would end. Wake up the next and that day would end (normally pretty similarly). I believed I was living in the ticking clock counting down seconds towards the day I’d make it to the important things: my senior ring, prom, graduation, college, life. But since March, and since the COVID-19 pandemic, my life felt like I had woken up in another Kairos filled dimension. Every day is a vivid dream I just can’t wake from. Prior to all this, I felt trapped in a powerful clock where the hands had come around and knocked me over day after day. Time was racing full speed towards things I was excited for and things I wasn’t whether I was ready for them or not. But now, this drastic shift in our experience of time has left me in a different mindset with different goals. The biggest thing living in the lockdown has made me question is this: can life be qualified as more or less meaningful now that I’m existing almost entirely in what feels like Kairos?

I’d like to think the answer is: “yes, what you do in your time apart from others matters just as much when we return to society.” However, is that truly the answer? I too have been one of the strangely ambitious people who have learned how to cook to waste away the daytime. I’ve made focaccia, French bread, banana bread, brownies, cookies, and even started to grow some plants I can use to cook with. But in a few weeks or months (the time is still undetermined as of now) will I really use these skills? I know for a fact I will never be able to match the number of books, movies, and televisions shows I’ve consumed in my time home. What I have come to realize, is this mass productivity comes in waves. Kairos, can be a background entity in the same way Chronos is in our normal lives. By this, I mean I’ve had days where I’ve gotten up at 6:45am, went for a several mile walk, read, did schoolwork, yoga and more. But I have also had days where I’ve woken up much too late into the afternoon to admit, had popsicles for dinner, and cringed away from any strong lights. It’s been a balance of diving deep into the foggy depths of Kairos and taking charge with the indefinite time I have and I think I can say that has been the case for many others. Whether or not I’m doing “important things” or being productive, time goes on. The clocks don’t stop but they also aren’t here to judge you. Whether or not you’re in bed all day or up at dawn working out, time and life won’t judge you.  This time to ourselves is ours. It could possibly be the only period of time we will have in life to truly live without judgement or obligations from “normal life.” Live as you choose and eat foods you want. There are many in the word suffering much worse than me, and many others, so I try not to complain about my situation. No one is judging you, so use your Kairos how you choose.

Collectively, we have never experienced an international crisis like this and I’m positive that life after lockdown will change immensely. But all these things I’ve used to chunk time and throw it behind me are yet to be useful. I hope that maybe one day, someone will need a beautiful homemade rosemary focaccia within a 1 hour, but when? When will I ever read a book a day for a week or need to know how many pages I can read in an hour? Things like these have been filling my time and keeping my moral up during this difficult time, but where will they go after? I guess it depends on each person, but I believe many of us will forget our fun talents or skills we develop over quarantine. That’s not what matters in the end. What matters is that we are trying. Trust me, I know it sounds cliché, but in this scenario, I believe it’s true. Trying to stay inside and entertain yourself for 8+ weeks didn’t seem as hard in early March, but now in May, I sing a different song. Finding new things or relying on old hobbies to keep yourself at home may never be useful after we are let out again, but stringing these things together for however much more time we are home can help you now. It’s not about next week or next month, but today. We are all living day by day waiting for change but no one really knows when that change is coming. So, for now, break out your cooking skills you never knew you had or take a dance class on Zoom and keep trying. We will make it past this…but I guess only time will tell.