As I have grown older, I have spent a lot of time thinking about… TIME.
Its a funny thing, time. If it were expressed as a line, there would be a running marker, the present, constantly moving ahead along the line. Stretching out behind, nearly infinitely, would be the past, set in stone as it happened.
But in the other direction, the future, it is a little less concrete. A nearly infinite number of threads of possible futures would seem to be coalescing at the marker that is the present. Then, as the marker passes in an instant, the lines become fixed in the past.
But that is not what I am concerned with at the moment. How we, as individuals, perceive time is the subject that fascinates me.
I’m sure everyone remembers how, as a kid, it seemed to take forever for time to pass while you were waiting for certain events… Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, your birthday.
I remember walking home from school in the weeks before Christmas and seeing all the trees lit in the windows of the houses along my way and thinking, “Just three more weeks!” then “Just two more weeks!” and finally, “Just one more week!”
But those weeks seemed an eternity. I didn’t think the time would ever pass until we could open our presents under the tree. But, of course, the time did pass and slipped unnoticed into the past.
As I moved into my teens and twenties, a curious thing began to take place. Those days and weeks and months and years seemed to speed up. I began to hear other people saying, “I can’t believe another year has gone by.” And I understood what they meant.
After I dropped out of school, I took a job working in hotels. I always thought that that would be temporary, that eventually I would go back and finish school, when my real life would start… but that never happened.
Roger Waters, of Pink Floyd, wrote about this so well:
“Tired of lying in the sunshine, staying home to watch the rain.
You are young and life is long, and there is time to kill today.
And then one day you find, 10 years have got behind you,
no one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.”
That’s what happened to me. As I moved into my 30’s, I became very dissatisfied with the way things were going for me and I went through a down period for several years. I wanted to do something else, but everything I tried turned out to be a huge mistake.
Eventually, I decided to go back to what I knew and try to do it the best I could. It worked for awhile, but all the time, years were going by faster and faster. Not until I fell into this job with the Gazette was I able to finally stop and just let the time flow over me.
Now, 20 years have passed in an eyeblink and all the things I took for granted as an athletic young man have changed. My balance is going and my knees barely work anymore. Events in my life which had once been sharp in my memory have begun to blur as to when it all happened.
“You run, you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking,
racing around to come up behind you again.
The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,
shorter of breath and one day closer to death.”
Harsh, but that’s the reality. We are only here a short time and it’s almost like as the years pass we just rush headlong to the end.
But I like to think it won’t really be the end. I don’t prescribe to the Christian notions of heaven and hell, but I’m sure something comes after. I wonder if time will be the same there, or if there will be time at all.