tick tock tick tock

When we’re children time seems endless — the day of school that won’t end, the 3-hour car trip that seems to take the entire day, the long long Sunday when we’re bored bored bored.

In our teens we “kill” time, like it’s the enemy.

When we’re in our 20s we spend it like it’s the spare change we find amid the lint in our pockets.

(I barely remember my 30s — I know, objectively, that “they” were ten years long, but it’s all just a blur, but “time” didn’t really seem to be something I thought about. . .yet. Haven’t quite tipped the scales, so to speak, since we figure we’ll live to at least 80, and we have more years left than we’ve lived.)

In our 40s we realize how little of it there really is, how fast it goes, and how it’s the one commodity we can’t borrow or negotiate.

In Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain the character Settembrini notes how, at a certain point in our lives, we look back, and past events seem chronologically both recent and distant, and speculates that this apparent dichotomy indicates a life well lived.

I try to let that be some kind of comfort to me as the years zip by.

There can’t possibly be enough time to read all the books I want to read and see all the movies I want to see and eat all the fantastic meals I want to eat and meet all the friends I want to meet.  I almost always wonder, when I’m doing something, if I “should” be doing something else.

Maybe I should have emotionally embraced my recent week-long bout of insomnia as a chance to “waste” less time sleeping.

8 Responses to “tick tock tick tock”

  1. December 6, 2010 at 9:23 am

    I know what you mean. But there is the other side that when we start to think that we’re ‘wasting time’ we panic and feel we ought to be doing something more constructive/important/worthwhile . . and then maybe we lose the chance to enjoy whatever we were actually enjoying doing.. like nothing. My fear is not actually doing nothing (which due to my nature is pretty unlikely) but more wasting ENERGY on things that are a waste of time…. but how do you judge a waste of time?!

  2. December 6, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    The process of aging is bittersweet in so many ways. The awareness of time being one of them. I often marvel at how much better looking and how highly functional my body was 15 years ago — and how I had no idea I’d reached my physical apex, and so took it for granted.

    What do you do when you can’t sleep? This isn’t a problem for me, and I’ve often wondered what folks who have insomnia do. Do you get up and do something? I’d probably sew or read a book, both relatively quiet activities (if anyone else might be disturbed).

  3. December 6, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    I really can’t believe that I am fifty years old! There is just no way. No way that my children are grown and one has child himself! How can I remember certain days of being a teenager as if they happened yesterday. Oh the things I would change if I could. How I would try to slow down time. But I guess no one really can. Old(er) age seems so unfair. Just as one has gained so much needed wisdom you have no way to use it and no one younger wants to hear it as they already know it all. At this age where one is heading is certainly not a party. When one is young life is so endless and now it seems to have an ever creeping end. I don’t think it’s just what you do or don’t do at this either, I think there is just a certain magic to being young that can never really be recaptured. Once the magic jar has been opened it can never be closed again. The cat is out of the bag and running ever faster down the hill. The horizan is getting closer and closer everyday.

  4. December 6, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Julee says “aging is bittersweet”…I don’t think so. It’s just bitter. Attending a friend’s 60th birthday party has been the stimulus for me to think a lot about aging and to reflect on how little I can look back on with any sense of achievement or pleasure, and hence how futile the final years will be.

    I completely agree with Sheriji – as a younger person I had absolutely no idea that those years might be valuable and that certain opportunities and experiences are only available once. I look at my mother now, as she struggles through each day, waiting for that final illness to arrive which is going to call an end to this business of life. She might want to read lots of books, but her macula degeneration is taking away her sight. She might want to go to movies, but she can’t get out of the house any more. She might want to eat great meals, but she now can’t open her oven door and can’t reach the bottom shelves in her refrigerator.

    • December 6, 2010 at 11:34 pm

      I haven’t quite crossed the line into bitter, yet. It would make it so much more difficult watching a loved one going through their final years, watching them deteriorate. I can imagine that would make you see the finality of life very clearly.

      I recently had a friend and neighbor who died, and it took about 6 mos., and we (the neighbors) were part of it — it showed me that we can choose, to a certain extent, the circumstances of how we die. She didn’t want to die in a hospice or a hospital (she had cancer and had decided to stop treatment), and had her family arrange for her to stay in her apartment and die there. That choice was quite a surprise to me, because I guess I thought you were powerless in your choice of how and where to die, but she firmly made her own choice and was able to be in her own home, with family and friends who came by pretty often, while she was in the process of dying. That was an empowering experience for me.

      I certainly agree with “Bp&aw” — I too have gained wisdom as I’ve gotten older, but no one really wants to hear it! It seems like a lot of hard won knowledge that could be passed on is stuck in me, because people really have it experience it themselves in order to believe certain things are true. There are so many times I wished I could haven known when I was young what I know now. I feel I’d be so accomplished now, so rich, and so much happier if I’d only known certain things, followed certain paths, done certain things when I was young — but that’s not how it works for a lot of people. Hindsight is just that, it doesn’t come in time.

      I hope I don’t slide into “bitter”, but feel as “oldblack” does about not being able to look back and feel I have accomplished much (achievement). Yes, that’s my fault, and yes, I’ve tried, but what I wanted to do with my life/talents never really came to fruition, and I am frustrated that I didn’t do what I felt I was supposed to do, nor did I fulfill the promise I felt I had. I look back with pleasure on some things, but have no deep satisfaction at having done what I feel I should have done. Nor have I gotten to a place where I feel like just being here is ok. I wish it were, and I’ve struggled to feel that way. I’d very much like to believe that “just being” is alright, but honestly, I don’t. I feel like I “should have” done some things I wasn’t able to do, and also that I have wasted some of my talents, that there was a lot of potential that really hasn’t yet been completely fulfilled.

      Everyone says “there’s still time”, but my energy and motivation lessens as I get older. I tend to run out of steam. A lot of things just feel futile now. Whereas, when I was young, sheer energy (and stupidity) kept me going. Now, not so much. So, for me, as I said, getting older feels bittersweet. I hope getting a lot older won’t seem futile, and hope I’ll gain more insight and peace about my life, but am not as sure now as when I was young that that will happen.

      • December 7, 2010 at 7:26 am

        One of my most important goals is not to become bitter — and no, it’s not too late; but if the wisdom borne of your experience tells you that some of those things are futile, that’s important too.

        Most of us can look back and see the things we should have done differently, but we didn’t do them that way, and we can’t go back and change it, so why bother? Like Golly in “Harriet the Spy” — never look back, only forward. Make the best of what you have, where you are, what comes next.

        That’s really all anyone can do, ever, at any age.

  5. December 7, 2010 at 6:36 am

    Most of us, will not age like a bottle of fine wine, and go gently into that soft night or some other quaint over-used metaphor or expression.

    Tbis was a nice piece, I am going to share it with some of my friends, you did a good job sister, take two atta-boys outta petty cash for a job well done.


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