Understanding Life a Minute at a Time

Milestones are made up of moments. Focusing on the big picture can help us parse its enormity.

Posted in , Jan 8, 2020

Measuring a milestone moment by moment

The Tony Award-winning musical Rent famously features a song that asks, “How do you measure a year?” and answers that question by counting how many minutes it takes to make precisely one circle around the sun—525,600.

Last year, my husband and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary, which my sister marked by doing some math and figuring out that we had shared a married life together for a mind-bending 10,512,000 minutes.

We’re in the first days of a new decade, and all the resolution-making and intention-setting feels like it’s focused on big ways of describing time. Marveling at the milestone in the big picture is worthwhile, but I’ve found my thoughts drifting toward smaller, more microscopic ways to take in the enormity of what a new phase of life looks and feels like.

When we zoom in, we notice more. We see our lives in all their beautiful complexity, as the smaller units of time let us take in that each year is made up of months, days, hours, minutes and seconds—and their accompanying myriad feelings, thoughts, events, challenges and triumphs. 

“Rent” suggests all sorts of ways to assess a period of time, like measuring a year in cups of coffee, sunsets, mistakes, miles, laughs or—most powerfully of all—love.

What will you see when you downshift from the big “new decade” mindset into what we might call a “moment mindset?”

Only time will tell.

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