Over Christmas break, I received the incredible chance to go on a band trip to Southern California. I am so grateful for the experience to see Disneyland decked in sparkling Christmas lights and beautiful wreaths, to hear the clamor of a thousand busy people, to taste new food from different cultures, to smell the salty breeze dancing off the ocean water, and to touch the sand as it smoothly slipped through my fingers.

On the 32-hour bus ride home, I had a lot of time to consider the new year that was before me, so I decided to look up a list of various things to try out during 2020. Numerous hours and several states later, I decided that I would take a one-second video every day for a year. With fresh inspiration from my experience in California, I was determined to capture every beautiful second in my life.

Over the next hour, I continued to glance out the bus window, hoping to find a moment equally as great as those I had experienced over the last week. The barren New Mexico landscape wasn’t sufficing. As I watched a tumbleweed bounce across the road, I desperately wondered why we couldn’t drive by just one beautiful landscape.

As the seconds slipped away, I became angry, wishing for that perfect second to capture. Exasperated, I begrudgingly took a video of the rather uninspiring landscape.

In retrospect, I ruined those seconds with my angry thoughts. It was only after the moment became a memory that I truly realized the value of those seconds. In fact, the value of every second matters more than we can understand at that moment.

Imagine that you had a bank account that filled up with $86,400 every day. Whether you spent all of the money from the day before or not, your account will have the same amount of $86,400 every day. The account will never go over that balance, even if you don’t spend all of the money from the day before. Wouldn’t you want to use every single penny?

Now, imagine that those pennies are seconds. The same logic applies. You should want to use every single second of your day. I am not talking about spending every single second of your life being busy because life isn’t about running from place to place, struggling to get everything done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Instead, it is about savoring every single moment of the journey. A second is not ruined by watching a movie or taking a nap after you have earned it. A second is ruined by being angry at someone, not taking a chance, or regretting a decision you made.

I understand now that not every second has to be as amazing as my trip to California, but every second should be appreciated. Time and words are the two things we can never retrieve, so I intend to be careful with both things.

Through this experience, the greatest lesson I learned was that time shouldn’t be spent; it should be used. Using time implies that you are taking advantage of every single second with a happy demeanor and a determined mindset.

Looking into the new year with a fresh perspective of time, I have realized that the only time I have is the present. I have already used my time in the past; there is no guarantee that I will have time in the future. This year, I am going to choose to be more aware of the present and to live in the moment. When the moment drifts into memory, I want to become grateful for that experience, but I want to continue to fix my eyes on the moment I have right now.

Never let the beautiful seconds in your life drown in a cacophony of discontent and regret. Wherever you are, be all there — this second, this moment.

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Emelia Richling is a sophomore at Northwest High School.

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