“What time is it?”

Stockholm sidewalk during a summer evening.

And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Wise words from one of America’s greatest modern writers. My own version of this was a game I started in college, and have played ever since. It doesn’t really have a name—I just call it “my favorite game” and leave it at that. I suppose you could call it the “what time is it?” game, otherwise. I play it during parties, picnics, and other pleasant get-togethers, though it isn’t a party game as such.

The whole game is just a simple request: “Time to play my favorite game, guys! What time is it?” The trick is that you aren’t allowed to check the time; you have to guess. It’s understood that I’m not really interested in what the time actually is, but what time you think it is.  You win by being the closest, I guess, but the point is never to win. The point is to be cognizant of the passage of time and to either appreciate how much time is still left to enjoy the night and how slowly time has passed so far despite the fun we’ve been having, or to try to come down and wrap up the night. It’s usually the former; I usually invite a round of the “what time is it?” game after I check the time myself and am pleasantly surprised at how early it still is.

This game gets rather more difficult when you live at latitudes farther from the equator than what you grew up with. I’ve lived in Sweden for almost four years now and I think I might have a handle on how to deal with winter, but then again I might not—it’s all too easy to blithely handwave winter away in the middle of June and forget how grim it can really get. In the winter, the “what time is it?” game isn’t about hope and joie de vivre but about reminding yourself to persevere. In the summer, though, it becomes straight-up sun worship.

All of that is to lead up to this subpar smartphone snapshot I took while I was out on a run yesterday:

Stockholm sidewalk during a summer evening.
So, what time is it?

This was yesterday: June 26, 2017. What time is it?

9:41 PM.

Winters in Stockholm are bleak, but summers are the most amazing thing. You need to store up moments like this one and hold on to them when it’s pitch black by 3 PM.

After all, if this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.

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