Nov 302011
Authors: Jesse Benn

My barely-older-than-me brother turned 30 last month. I found my first legit gray hair about two months ago. I don’t have any kids, but, it would be perfectly normal if I did at my age.

And that’s how time is.

If you’re fortunate enough, some, maybe even all of those things will happen to you – maybe they already have.

You see, time just happens, whether you like it or not. Of all the things in this world that we have no control over, time might be the furthest from our grasp. The saving grace is that you control what you do with your time.

When I was a little kid, maybe five or six, I visited my grandpop Roy’s grave. He was my mom’s dad, and he died of lung cancer before any of my siblings or I was born.

It’s the first time I had to confront death, even though it was the death of someone I’d never met. And as I attempted to sleep that night, I found myself crying. Crying about the grandfather I’d never meet, and then, crying for all my friends and family that I now realized would have to die someday too.

It was a weird night. But as I lay there, crying, thinking about death and life and family and friends, I started to think about time.

Someday I’ll be 10 years old I realized, and 16, 18, 21… someday I’ll be 40. And then it really hit me: Someday I’ll be dead.

Like I said, it was a weird night. But of all the nights in my life, something about that one always stood out.

It doesn’t exactly sound profound now, “We get older and we die.” Big deal right?

But it is a big deal.

It’s been said a number of ways, but I like how Ferris Bueller put it best: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

When you’re young, time seems like it moves so slow. I’m pretty sure the elementary school year took about four times as long as a year takes now.

But at some point, time shifts. I didn’t notice it at first, but all of a sudden the years just started to fly by. For me, it happened right as I entered my early 20s.

Unlike many of you reading this, I didn’t go straight to college after high school – not consistently at least. Instead I worked for a while as a janitor, including at our very own CSU, and later I found more promising work in sales and wireless retail.

The thing with working, or doing anything that’s the same week-in and week-out, is that you no longer have those little markers – Thanksgiving break, the start of a new semester or school year – and time can just blur together, leaving you with little to hang on to.

So at first, as I found myself getting older at previously unheard of speeds, I got down about it. I didn’t like birthdays because they just reminded me how fast time was moving – New Years was the same type of thing: another reminder of time passing me by.

It wasn’t time’s fault, time was just doing what it does – I just wasn’t using mine right.
And then something funny happened; I stopped letting time just happen and started making things happen with my time.

I gave up drinking, got back in school, bought a Jeep Wrangler, started climbing mountains and traveling the world.

Instead of being scared by how fast time was moving, I became empowered by it. I made lists of five, 10 and 20-year plans. If time was going to move that quick, I was going to plan big to try to keep up.

So that’s what I went about doing: trying to keep up. I make it my goal every year to form as many life-long memories as possible.

Because really, all we get to keep are our memories.

Now, with some of those five year plans I’d written already five years old, some partially finished and some even completely changed, I can confirm that it’s the fun in getting there that it’s all about.

Don’t get hung up on the details, the stumbling blocks and failures – just enjoy the journey. More often than not, it’s these setbacks that become the most memorable parts of the trip.

And if you’re too busy being stressed out over them, well, you just might miss out.

Jesse Benn is a senior political science major who cooks a pretty good turkey. His column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. He can be reached at

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