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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Get Busy Living


The Future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is. ~C.S. Lewis

Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them. ~ Dion Boucicault 

Time gallops on. ~ John Jackson

When I worked at the Vancouver Public Library years (eons!) ago, I remember a librarian once laughing at me when I expressed my shock at how quickly time was passing. She said "Wait'll you get to my age!" Well, I'm actually probably past her age now, and I get what she meant. Everyone around my age expresses the same sentiment. Where did the time go? 

I get up in the morning and have my shower and say to myself "Wasn't I just doing this a little while ago? Has it really been a whole 24 hours?" I'm shockingly aware of the fact that there is now more time behind me than will be in front of me. How did that happen? I thrill at the return of spring and summer, only to find it's fall turning into winter again.

When we are small, a day is a lifetime. An hour is unbearable. A minute can't come soon enough. Does time really speed up as we grow older? Or is it only a trick of the senses?

Well, it turns out that it's all to do with perspective. At least that's what the theorists tell us. When we are five, a year is 20% of our entire life.  When we are 50, a year is only 2%. No wonder it seems to go more slowly when we're young. Our experience of time at that point in our lives is entirely different.

Other theories state that we have many more "firsts" when we are young, and therefore we remember those times with more intensity as if they stretched on and on. For instance, in high school we probably all had a lot of firsts. First girlfriend/boyfriend. First acne. First trophy at a basketball game, first bra (okay some of you girls probably got your first one when you were 10). 

Later in life, well, we've been there and done that. Our regular days are filled with repetitive events and tasks that are unmemorable, and certainly not as emotionally intense as in high school. The boring repetition in our lives leads to a kind of blurring of minutes and hours and days.

Yet another theory is that our "biological clock" actually slows as we age, so that external time goes more quickly.  I'm still trying to get my head around that one. There are other theories too, including the fact that we pay less attention to time as we get older, and daily stress both contribute to the feeling of time speeding by.

Whatever it is, real or not, I've become increasingly aware of the quick passage of time as my parents have grown older and passed away. It's the "I'm next" syndrome, which is rather daunting if not depressing! There are things I want to do yet, places I want to see. But most of all, I want to live more in the moment, to really BE where I am and fully experience everything, no matter how boring and repetitive. And so that is exactly what I have been working on in the last few weeks and months.

Here is an example: every week morning I go for a half-hour walk. My husband once cajoled me for always taking the same route, but I like it and I've stuck with it for years. Some of you might think, why not take a different route and see something new? Well, I could do that.  But the fact is that I've discovered something very valuable during my walk and in my quest for being in the moment. It actually IS a new route every day. I see different people, the birds sing different notes in a different order, the weather is different, plants and trees change, flowers bloom and then they're gone. Every single walk is different, all I have to do is pay attention! When I pay attention, I see all sorts of things rather than just getting lost in my thoughts and forgetting where I am. I've posted pictures here in this blog of things I see, sometimes funny, always surprising and definitely something I would have missed if I was not paying attention.

I've also started sketching again, something I did when I was younger. When I put pencil to paper, I get lost in the flow. On the one hand, time flies. On the other, I am intensely involved in it.

When I am IN the moment, I truly experience it in a way that almost makes time slow down, just as when I was a kid.

As a young girl looking at old people, I would feel so removed from their age. Now, not so much. One thing I did notice at a young age was that there were old people who were miserable, grumpy and to be avoided, and there were others who were always smiling. I'm sure there's more than one reason why, but I know that my parents were the kind to always make the best of things, to engage with others and stay interested in what was going on around them. I think that's an attitude that I can foster in myself over the next while in order to make the best of whatever time there is left.

It's up to me, as the line in Shawshank Redemption says, to: "Get busy livin' or get busy dyin'."

IJ