In my graduate course on diagnosis and assessment, I sat next to a girl who wore a silver bracelet inscribed with the words “this too will pass” in a scrolled font. For the longest time, I assumed she must be going through a hard experience. She would sit with her arm resting on the desk and twirl the bracelet around her wrist as our professor lectured. I would watch her and, like any good armchair diagnostician, interpret her bracelet twirling and glances out the window as signs of feeling down and hoping this phase in her life would change for the better.
It was good that I learned better ways of assessing and diagnosing, because as the semester went on, I realized she was actually one of the most positive and resilient people I had ever met.
Around the time of midterms, when we were all stressed and anxious about our grades (and sleep-deprived from all-night cramming sessions), she said something that will stick with me forever.
One of our classmates said, “I’m so sick of grad school. I just want it to be over. It’s so hard and horrible.”
“This will pass,” the girl with the bracelet said.
Another student said, “Not me. I love being a student and my only job being to learn. It’s the best.”
“This too will pass,” she smiled again – and gave her bracelet a twirl.
It was then that I realized the meaning of the bracelet. I had misunderstood. The phrase wasn’t just capturing the bad times that will pass, but the good times, too.
Whatever happens – good or bad – will pass. All of it.
Time stands with its hands on its hips and its foot tapping impatiently. We know life is short, and we know it goes quickly, but that doesn’t stop us from spending a whole bunch of time looking back with regret and looking forward with anticipation that somehow the next best thing is right around the corner.
Moments are precious because they don’t repeat. What seems mundane today is actually spectacular.
The problem is that we often realize just how spectacular it is when the moment has passed us by.