Like a sock in the dryer, my afternoon disappeared. One minute it was time for lunch and the next my stomach was grumbling for dinner. I wasn’t surprised. I was in the midst of writing a story and I know being absorbed in writing makes the time go for me. Getting totally lost in reading can do that, too. For you it may be wood-working, or painting, or polishing silver. You plan a wedding for a whole year, anticipate it from the first thought through the snows of December and the rains of April until June is here. Then it happens and it is over in three hours and the three hours feels like three minutes. Yet waiting to hear someone is safely out of surgery, or waiting on line at the Department of Motor Vehicles can feel like forever; the minutes grow fat and sluggish, as if they’re never going to move toward after. So yes, I know the day-to- day expandability and retract-ability of time very well. What is harder to comprehend is the sudden passage of a season, a year, a decade. This summer, for example. Can you believe how fast it went? When I was a child it took forever to get through June to the 30th and summer vacation. But then, as compensation, vacation stretched too. I could read fifteen books and make new friends and go to the beach what felt like a million times and still not use up the summer. Now, I hardly say the word “summer” and it is over. Someone says it is because the weather is so weird. We didn’t have spring. But what if I lived in Florida, where there is only one season?Wouldn’t I still be shocked at how quickly New Year’s Eve has come and gone, and how yesterday I was watching the Twin Towers fall and it is already almost two decades past? Philosophers have thought and written about time and discussed the nature of pastness. Psychologists have speculated, too, on why and how time works the way it does. St. Augustine said, “Time is something in the mind.” Maybe it is because when we are young our lives change so often and dramatically that we don’t even notice the passage of time surrounding the changing events, but when we are older, the flat terrain of routine makes it plain. Or maybe the logarithmic explanation – yes, there is one – that says that to a twenty year-old two years will seem like one year to a ten year-old, and doing the math, by the time you’re sixty, six years will seem like one year to a ten year old, is true. But no matter how you explain it, it’s a fact that time seems to go faster as we get older. So I suppose I’d better hurry up and enjoy myself, a kick a minute, a hoot an hour, a delight a day, as the years race by.

About betteann

Writer, teacher, cook
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