I believe in the beauty of a second, the beauty of that one brief moment in eternity where all life seems to stop and you can stare at the cold black depths of the ever infinite abyss. I am talking about that one minute, hour, or day that is different from all the other mundane minutes, hours, and days. I am talking about that special moment where you shine like you have never shone before, where a revelation comes to you, and/or where your life changes.
When time first stopped for me, my life nearly ended. I was seven years old at the time, and I thought myself invincible. My family and I were at the beach, and though I had lived in Puerto Rico my entire life, this would be the first time that I had dared go into the ocean. I wanted to learn how to surf, and thus I took my uncle’s board without permission, and I dragged it with my little feet all the way to the ocean, hitting countless innocents as I struggled to carry what is, by seven year old standards, a very heavy load. As I waited on top of the board for a wave to come in, I started to think that maybe the ocean was not as scary as I had thought it was, that maybe it was not dangerous at all, that maybe I was completely safe. As I thought this an enormous shadow seemed to loom over me, the sun no longer looked warmly upon my back, and the smell of salt, that had before been vaguely noticeable, now seemed to be part of the very air I breathed. I was pushed onto the water by the ocean’s cold harsh hand. And then time stopped.
The fish, that prior to this had been swimming around playfully, no longer moved. As I sank deeper into oblivion I noticed that the world had stopped, that the algae stood still, and that even the people on the border of the beach did not move an inch. In that moment, in that instant, in that second I realized that if I did not get out of that situation by myself, if I waited for help to come, I would drown, or worse, I would be forever scared of the ocean. And so as the salty water began to fill my lungs I swam. I bet you have all been told about moments where everything stops, where the only thing you can hear is the rapid drumming of your heart. What people do not tell you is that once that moment is over, once your mind comes back and your heart calms down, time suddenly seems to move twice as fast as if to catch up. Time flew. I was found on the beach, taken to the hospital, and then taken back home in what seemed to me to be nothing but a second. All I remember is that the people around me were moving so fast that they seemed like flashes, and that I was severely grounded after that.
I assure you that if you do not already know what I speak of, that you will come to understand it eventually, for it is also my belief that every person will experience an instant where time freezes. These brief moments, these small fractions of life, these miniscule interludes in infinity could be as simple as eating your favorite food, getting good grades, and receiving a gift that you have longed for; or they could be complicated, like being accepted into medical school, writing a book, and/or even falling in love.
As cliché as this may sound moments like I just described happen all the time. They happen during graduations, they happen when people laugh, they happen when you are taking a test. They even happen when you are giving a speech in English class, a speech that might, just might, make no sense to anyone but you. These pauses in time happen in the most random of occasions, when you are least expecting them to. But it is because of that variability, because of that incontrollable randomness, that these moments are special, that these moments last forever. It is because of these small moments hidden in the fabric of daily activity that time is infinite.