On time dilation (or 22 days to Step One)

I find it hard to believe that I’ve been studying for two weeks. Time seems to move differently during Step Prep. Day after day, each morning I wake up to my alarm, my partner makes coffee, and it feels the same. The morning fugue before I orient myself to the study tasks ahead.

The days pass quickly and a day passes slowly. I notice the passage of each hour: maybe I should have watched some microbiology videos. A solid break with stretching and audiobooks, instead of mindlessly cruising facebook on my phone, would have been a better way to spend that time. Could I have done another question block review? So many should’ve, would’ve, could’ves.

I feel like I’m a month into step prep, not two weeks. How could Course Seven have ended so recently? Back then, I planned on competing in Orlando yesterday. Now, I understand how lofty my goal-making: Step Prep requires most of my daily focus, both to study and to unwind. If I had competed, I would have simultaneously prepared poorly for the competition and for my board exam. By skipping the tournament, I can at least prepare for one of them well.

The days feel the same. The grind might change a bit here or there. The weather shifts slowly towards summer with stronger sun and longer days, pulling me outside to escape the computer.

Lately, as the sun sets and the night rises, my partner and I have ventured on a mile walk around our neighborhood. This time of transition finds me antsy and I wiggle around more than usual, so I welcome a chance to revel in the shift while engaging in some movement. Over the past week, we’ve been watching the first moon of spring hang to the west, above the setting sun.

This moon, now a waxing crescent visible in the late afternoon sky, will provide a natural alarm to Step One. Over the next week, she will ripen and fill the night as she separates from the sun. A full moon before Easter weekend, then she will begin to wane as April winds down. The next new moon will rise on April 26th, the day after my exam.

There’s a wonderful symmetry, with Step Prep beginning on the Equinox and ending after a full moon’s cycle. The rhythm of the sun and moon make sense to me. Through them, I set my life in tune with something objective, impartial, and romantic: the dance of celestial bodies. They remind me that time moves at a constant pace and that my job is to keep track of them so I can keep track of time. If not, I might lose myself to the routine and lose that sense of perspective.

Time waits for no man, and so I watch the moon.

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