There is this quality of experience, what I will call Currency, which I value irrationally.
Merriam-Webster, currency, noun
1 c : the quality or state of being current : currentness
I have a best friend. I will call him Today. Today is my best friend in all the world. He is funny; we laugh at each other’s jokes. He is generous and kind. He is musically talented. He is merciful and gracious. He is hesitant and he is shy. He calls me out on my bullshit. Today is a good listener. A few weeks ago, when it was stupid cold, he and I went to the Lake in Central Park and walked out on the ice until some cops with mega-phones yelled at us.
I had a best friend in high school, whom we’ll call Yesterday, to continue this ham-handed metaphor. Yesterday was funny and generous and kind. He could play any instrument you might hand him, and he understood hope and charity. He was neither hesitant nor shy, but he had his own quirks. He called me out on my bullshit (although back then, neither of us would have ever said bullshit). Once he and I skipped class and waded through the pond at Rodes Park, acting like Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn (I was Huck), and showed up to his house in soaking wet jeans.
Now, if questioned, I will say that I am far closer to Today than I was to Yesterday. Today is more accepting, and more thoughtful. He better prioritizes our friendship. Of course, we are also older and more mature than Yesterday and I were. We have a wider array of experience on which to recline. Yesterday and I have grown apart, and rarely speak.
But every benefit of the friendship Today and I share too often pales in comparison to that one looming quality of our experience, currency. He is my friend now, he is my friend Today. By the same token, New York is the most incredible place I’ve lived, my church is the most Gospel-centered I’ve attended, and the girl I last kissed has infatuated me more than any before.
My intention is not to say that delighting in currency is wrong. Currency is important, vital. Currency’s what we’ve got right here. Currency is that quality which amplifies experience. But here is the issue into which I run: soon enough, Today and I will drift apart and move away from one another and talk less and less. (This isn’t a necessary outcome, simply that to which I am accustomed.)
And if he fades from the every-day routine of my life into the obscurity of random texts and visits, eventually another will take his place; I will meet Tomorrow. Tomorrow might be hysterical. He might be a sweetheart, and giving, and a musical genius. He might be an almost-perfect picture of Christ come back to earth. We might one day go white-water rafting the Colorado River, and I’ll fall out and get pinned in a jetty, and he’ll jump in and save my life.
But I fear those hypothetical qualities will be tertiary to the currency of that experience. I might just as well settle for a cad as a best friend. I worry that, any way it goes, I will still say, “You are my best friend. You are the best friend I’ve ever had.” While currency is an important quality, I too often regard it as the most important quality. Will I someday dismiss Today simply for his absence; will I welcome Tomorrow simply for his presence? Do I discard Yesterday by the same impulse?
There is the other end to which one can swing: complete rejection of currency, manifest in constant reminiscence or chronic aspiration. This is no better. While the idolatry of currency is an issue of blindness, devoid of betters and worses, its opposite is akin to simply owning a smartphone: a camera blocking one’s eyes from what is truly happening, to then go home and enjoy a bastardized memory. Or in aspiration, scrolling through the best-looking fragments of one’s acquaintances? Their accomplishments and their beautiful families and the things that you might achieve someday, but not today.
And here I have outlined problems with no solutions. Should I grow in absence? Should I stand in the doorway, always coming, always going? Or is there perhaps this quality of experience, that of a current, which I have not valued?
Merriam-Webster, current, noun
1 a : the part of a fluid body (as air or water) moving continuously in a certain direction
Written by Jesse Scott Owen