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A Moment in Time
read in Macedonian


And so 2011 comes to a close and 2012 is upon us.  It is trite to say this but it seems as though we were just celebrating the beginning of 2011.  Such is the nature of getting older – when we were children it seemed that time moved very slowly indeed.  With age, time seems to speed up.  Is that because we are just busy or because we are more aware of our own mortality? 

Regardless this is a time when we tend to reflect on moments in time, especially the past year.  I’m not going to do that in this week’s column; there is plenty of time (!) to reflect on all that has happened this year, both in a macro sense – the world over – and in a micro sense –  in my own life, in your own individual lives.  Instead I want to focus on the very idea of a moment in time. 

Defined, a “moment”  can be very brief – a matter of seconds or minutes.   You can say in response to a question, “he is not here at the moment.”  Or a moment can be a much longer period – at the beginning World War II, for instance, one could have said “at this moment in history, the world is on the edge of destruction.”  The “moment” I want to focus on could be either and I’ll give examples and their ramifications. 

During a moment in time in my life – specifically in 1996 – I made a decision to move to Macedonia.  I had been offered a three month job with Mercy Corps International, a humanitarian non-profit based in Oregon, and had the opportunity to fill out someone else’s 12 month contract because he did not want to move from Budapest (One could consider that guy’s moment in time – if he had made that move, then the offer to move to Macedonia would never have been made to me and, well, everything would have been different including the fact that I would not be writing these words now because I never would have been associated with Macedonia.  But I digress.) 

Regardless, I was made the offer and I accepted it, after thinking about it…for a few moments.  I took a three month leave of absence from my public relations job in Washington, DC, and moved to Macedonia with the full intention that I would have a little adventure, enjoy three months in the sun of Southeastern Europe (for it was the summer of 1996) and return to my job in the states. 

But a funny thing happened on the way during that three month adventure – I came to know and love Macedonia and the Macedonians. 

At another moment in time –  near the end of those three months – I was offered a longer-term job with Mercy Corps in Macedonia.  I made the decision to quit my job in Washington, DC and stay – but just for one year.  And in yet another singular moment in time at the end of that one year I made another decision – to simply stay and live and work and enjoy Macedonia.   

As a result of those particular moments in time my life has changed (yes, for the better).  And as a result of those particular moments in time, I have had the opportunity to positively affect people in my life both in the long-term as well as during particular moments in time.  And throughout my years with Macedonia, I have had singular moments in my life when my decision to do this or that has led to other significant events in my life (such as making a documentary about Macedonia).  I’m sure you’ve had those moments too. 

But something else which I have not given too much thought to – opportunity costs.  An opportunity cost – as an economist will tell you – is “the cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action. Put another way, the benefits you could have received by taking an alternative action.”  If, in that moment, I had made the decision not to go to Macedonia for those initial three months or if I had made the decision not to stay for a year – what would my life have been like these past many years?  What benefits would I have received from staying and working in Washington, DC instead of investing my life in Macedonia?   

I don’t know the answer to those questions and it really is a moot point – in a moment of time I made a decision and my life has been vastly richer for it, because of my life in and with Macedonia. 

As you enter 2012, pause –  for a moment – and think about those moments in your life that have had a profound impact on your life – one way or another.  As you go through 2012 you will know and understand when these moments occur.  When they do, think about them and understand their impact.   

Happy New Year Macedonia!

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Jason Miko
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