• June 16, 2024

The Second Day

If you’ve ever been in the mood to cry openly on a cross-country Alaska Airlines flight, I recommend screening the 2013 film About Time. You know, hypothetically.

My first viewing happened in early 2021, with my roommates in our living room, charged up with pandemic emotions. I was completely unprepared and inconsolable for hours afterward. I vowed to never watch it again.

Then I found myself on a cross-country Alaska Airlines flight. Call it limited in-flight entertainment options or the fact that, one day earlier, my 2021 memory was the subject of conversation, but I was compelled to revisit the most stunning portrayal of humanity’s limited, beautiful window of life that I can recall. With new eyes, I know it is the perfect movie. And also my favorite.

The men in our protagonist’s family possess the ability to travel backward in time, with limitations. This tool (and its rules) drives humor and heartbreak throughout the movie, culminating in a final conversation between Tim and his father about the big secret to living with the gift. As Tim says, “Part one of the two-part plan was that I should just get on with ordinary life, living it day by day, like anyone else. But then came part two of Dad’s plan. He told me to live every day again almost exactly the same. The first time with all the tensions and worries that stop us noticing how sweet the world can be, but the second time noticing.”

Over time, Tim stops traveling back at all, not even for the day. “I just try to live every day as if I’ve deliberately come back to this one day, to enjoy it, as if it was the full final day of my extraordinary, ordinary life.” As Ben Folds’s gentle lyrics lilt over images of babies, croquet, and breakfasts, I weep.

It’s January, a new year. With it comes the familiar exhortation to start over, to change, to improve, to adjust. What if instead of dismissing yesterday as something to re-do, we steady our eyes to see this day completely?

Today is any day, an extraordinary, ordinary, full, and final day. Let us not add pressure to the already hyper-pressurized, but instead take a deep, fresh breath of deliciously normal air.

This month’s playlist, “The Second Day,” is 10 songs, and 32 minutes long. But don’t rush it. As I understand it, most things happen too quickly, and we always wish we had more time.

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