The Feeling of Time

I spend a good deal of time thinking about why time seems to go by so slowly when you’re a kid, but so fast when you’re an adult. When I was little, if there was something I was looking forward to–like a birthday or a visit from my aunts and uncles, the waiting felt like an eternity; there was so much life to be lived in between these events. Nowadays it feels like I blink and the holidays are behind me.

I think I spend so much time pondering the feeling of the passage of time because I tend to think the way things were when I was younger was better. There are moments now when time can feel lost–babies grow into young kids, big important people that I’ve idolized for years pass away. I’ve had moments where I’ve felt like life is on this jet-engined sled that I’m chasing after, barely hanging on. I never feel like I’m accomplishing all the things I need or want to be. I’m never sure I have all that I should to “show” for my time here on earth. In retrospect, a lot has happened in my life, there’s been great change and accomplishments and hurdles; I’ve been an active participant in all of it– it is not in fact passing me by. Still, on a lot of days, it’s easy to feel like I’m going to blink and all of the sudden be seventy. The older I get the more I cherish life because my understanding of how short it really is becomes deeper and deeper.

Last night my hubs and I were catching up on the NBC Series, This is Us. I actually get excited when we get far behind on a show because it allows for a better binge. While this method works for most of the programming we watch, we realized that it fails a bit with this show. Each episode is packed with so much real life. Scenes stir up different emotions in both of us and it’s not so easy to breeze through them. When we went to bed last night I told my husband I felt like I wanted to cry. It wasn’t because of any specific scene–it was all of it. There was so much that touched my heart because I could relate to it, because it mirrored things that have happened in my own life. I think the show really encapsulates how beautiful and complicated and happy and sad life can be. It’s not easy to watch, just like life is not always easy to live.

When I told my hubs I felt like I wanted to cry, he said he knew what I meant. Our evening in front of the tube got him thinking and feeling as well. Admittedly, I was more eager to investigate those feelings than he was. I actually think my husband is light years ahead of most men when it comes to opening up and being honest about his emotions. But he prefers to do it on his time; he reveals things to me when he’s ready. He’s not particularly a fan of me cornering him after something heavy and asking him to process it with me. That doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.

While This is Us has a great fan following, I do know people who don’t watch it because it’s just a bit too much for them. Everyone watches TV for different reasons. A lot of people want to be entertained but they don’t necessarily want to be impacted emotionally during their free time. They don’t want to think or be left wondering. Their own lives can feel like too much already, they don’t necessarily want that reality mirrored back to them, they’d prefer to escape it.

Sometimes I wonder if that’s why life goes by so fast. There’s so much of it we seem to be trying to escape.

This escapism is learned. I think when we are young, there is a natural inclination to live in the present. While we certainly look forward to things, we’re also captivated by what’s in front of us. We laugh when something is funny. We cry when something or someone makes us sad. We get angry when something doesn’t seem fair. We take life as it comes to us and every situation is new and important and meaningful. Time feels slow because everything is new and our capacity to learn is so grand; our imaginations are wild and free and there’s no reason for us to think that the world isn’t a similarly limitless place.

As we age we start to learn about appropriateness–about the thoughts, feelings, and actions that are accepted by the majority of people.  We learn that there are in fact limits. We’re given a pat on the back and told we are strong when we learn to control and suppress the feelings and emotions that once felt natural to express. As we watch our parents and the other adults around us, we conclude that control must be one of our main goals; we want to take in as much of the good that life has to offer, and avoid as much of the bad as we possibly can. Time flies by because there’s so much of being human that we’re scared or unwilling to look at or sit with. It’s inevitable that time feels missed when we’ve only allowed ourselves to fully experience a certain portion of it.

I’m determined to have a slow 2018. Don’t get me wrong, I want it to be vibrant and full of life and action. But I want to feel it. Asking where the time has gone every year bums me out; I’m determined to experience all 365 days and not gloss over them in chunks as I look ahead to warmer weather or time off or “skinny” days.

I have to say, I think I’ve done pretty well for myself these first twenty eight days of the year. January is definitely a month I’m normally just trying to “get through.” Instead, this year so far, I’ve:

Felt the struggle of ridding my body of the addictive sugar I let it have over the holidays.

Felt the relief of being back in a normal clean eating pattern.

Fallen in love with the white, almost blush roses they sell at Trader Joe’s (I never liked roses before but there is something so special about these, and they last for a crazy amount of time!)

Felt super annoyed and also super in love with almost every member of my family. 

Remembered why I think The Wire is the best show that’s ever been on television.

Confirmed that Larry David is indeed my spirit animal.

Discovered that Levain Bakery on the Upper West Side has a dark chocolate cookie with PEANUT BUTTER chips.

Felt inconsolably angry when I’ve determined that other people’s actions that I have no control over could have a major impact on my life.

Felt frustrated when I’ve remembered that control is really an illusion.

Been heartbroken when I’ve realized that my relationship might not be invincible.

Felt more in love with my husband than ever before.

Gotten excited about planning a small trip to Boston, and a larger trip to England, Scotland, and Ireland.

Returned to loving the treadmill and envisioning my body as a machine that I am constantly fueling and fine tuning.

Recognized that even one more push-up can be invigorating progress.

Been cold as balls.

Finally found a facial oil that agrees with my skin and is able to protect it from the harsh winter winds.

Erased and rewritten an opening monologue at least thirty times.

Had yoga classes where I’ve determined I’ve finally broken through and made some real progress on opening up my right hamstring and improving my alignment.

Had yoga classes where I’ve determined I’m back to square one and my body is f*%$#@.

Determined that the Max Richter arrangement of Vivaldi Spring 1 is what it sounds likes to get sober.

Laughed hysterically with my sister on Facetime about ridiculous things we have seen living in New York City.

Remembered that when I watch more of the regular season of college hoops, March Madness is even more thrilling.

Been afraid.

Been hopeful.

Been sad.

Been incandescently happy.


Even the most mundane details of life contribute to it’s fullness…to it’s goodness.





header: curtis macnewton




41 thoughts on “The Feeling of Time

  1. Pingback: Just Doing It – cat h. bradley

  2. That point about time flying because we choose not experience it all 👌. I am terrible at processing feelings. I avoid the shit out of it. I will do anything other than sit, on my own, and just deal with anything in my head. And you’re right. My days, months, years are gone in a flash.

    But I’m not sure I can change. The idea actually kind of scares me, and I never admit to being scared of anything 😂.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well there you go–you admitted to being scared of something. Something you don’t usually do. Something tells me there’s more possibility for change in you than you realize. I know you’re a results girl–think what amazing shit may be on the other side of all those scary feelings!!


  3. Love this post Cat! Someone once told me that time (seems to) goes faster as you age because one year becomes a smaller percentage of your life with every birthday. I think as long as you can fill your year with ‘living’ then it doesn’t matter how fast it goes by. Unfortunately ‘living’ includes those tough times too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That makes a lot of sense Ang-the percentage thing. I think my hope of slowing things down just comes from not loving the feeling of looking back and feeling like time got away from me. But i think if i am doing what you say–living to the fullest, I will prob have the problem less.
      The thing about the tough times i think I’ve learned as I’ve aged is that they are just as beautiful a part of my life as the happy ones. They don’t always feel beautiful in the moment, but in time i am able to recognize the unbelievable mosaic that is my life.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Time does go much faster the older you get, this I know!!! I have not watched This is Us, not sure why but I have not seen one episode. This month has been crazy busy for me too!! The hubs was finally transferred over, so we have been purging my house in order to make room for some things from his apartment. We spent a weekend in Louisiana running, go figure! And we spent a week or so being sick/taking care of whoever was sick!! I’m looking forward to February.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I actually read an article on The Guardian the other week (and wouldn’t you know I can’t find it to share) regarding the perception of time. The main point I found interesting was that as we age our brains tend to “chunk” time and group similar experiences together so that time seems to pass faster. As kids everything tends to be a new experience so we experience it in its entirety and it doesn’t get “chunked” away. It made a lot of sense to me because I often think about how only “big” memories with Jason stand out to me since we’ve been together – trips we’ve taken, really special dinners, etc. and how a lot of it just seems to speed by us. That’s not to say we’re not enjoying that “chunked time” (which consists of a lot of Netflix binges!) but rather it’s just not memorable enough for our brains to isolate and preserve.

    Oh another note you mentioning Larry David as your spirit animal cracks me up. We’ve recently started watching Curb Your Enthusiasm on Amazon Prime and love it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Whoa, looks like me and this Guardian writer were right on the same page, especially if we were both using “chunked” (or was that just me, lol–probably, not the most beautiful writing there!)
      OMG Curb. I would dare say that I am one of the preeminent Seinfeld fans in the world (I’m sort of kidding but sort of not). I own it all on DVD and for the past 15 years I have watched the episodes consecutively before I go to bed. I am certain I’ve seen all of them hundreds and hundreds of times. A lot of times before we start an episode, I say one line from it to my husband–I used to joke that that’s probably all they had at first was that one line, and then they built the episode off of it.
      Somehow we only just recently started watching Curb and when we did it just blew our minds–it’s literally that exact concept. He literally just takes like one line from an old Seinfeld episode and creates an episode of Curb out of it. It’s unbelievable, I love it. LD is my man!


  6. I wish there was a love button. Especially toward the collection of moments at the end.

    1. I had a very similar thought process a couple of years ago. To combat the lightning speed at which time appears to pass us by, I started a ‘memory a day’ journal and wrote down one simple thing for 365 days. It actually helped, and is super cool to look back on now!

    2. Have you read the Dharma Bums? Whether Kerouac was aware of it in his ramblings or not, the thought appears a few times in the book. As I read it I wrote down the quotes that spoke to me… and there was one that seemed to answer the question at the very end: ‘To the children and the innocent, it’s all the same.’ I don’t know why I love that so much… but I really, really do.

    ❤ Here's to a slow 2018!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to say Bobbi, I always feel so incredibly grateful to have you as a blogger friend because you just get me so hard core. That Kerouac line is EVERYTHING. ‘To the children and the innocent, it’s all the same.” I think you love it for the same reason I love it–it’s the TRUTH. Sentences like that are why i want to be a writer.

      PS-I love your memory a day journal idea–that’s got to be incredible to look back on. I should do that. I’m so bad at daily things–I’ve never been able to stick to the journaling!


  7. I have DEFINITELY had those yoga classes – both of them! This time last year was weird as I was waiting for my operation date and worrying about whether to defer my spring marathon. This year, I’m training for that deferred marathon and working on counting my blessings.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s pretty amazing to look back at life isn’t it–sometimes we face situations that feel like such a slog, like we are never going to get through them. Then we come out on the other side. It’s good to remember each place we go!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I need to watch This Is Us again. I watched the first three episodes and then just got caught up in other stuff and sometimes when so many episodes have gone by it’s hard to get back into it – but I should try because I hear nothing but great things!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post! Time is a crazy thing. In running, I always find it amazing how quickly time or distance fly by when I don’t want them to (like during the easy/rest of intervals) and how slowly they can go when I’m suffering. Also, I find it amazing that it can be both hot AND cold as balls.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Such irony you mention that as today I was coaching track and since I was the only coach there for the sprinters/jumpers I had to stand at the top of the hill rather than run the hills with them (couldn’t risk them cheating and walking behind me or be super far ahead of me and walking before the finish). It was low 40s and definitely didn’t feel even that warm and I thought “It’s cold as balls” and then proceeded to wonder why we say it’s cold as balls as well as it’s hot as balls.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Randy, I laughed so hard out loud today at work when I read your comment. And then I questioned myself–I was like wait, “Is it only hot as balls? Am I making shit up?” And then I realized that i say BALLS all the time and sometimes they are hot and sometimes they are cold. I am glad Tracy was here also with her story to confirm for me!! Thanks you guys, lol!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Gretchen Rubin said in “The Happiness Project” that “the days are long, but the years are short”. I wasn’t the hugest fan of her work but that quote has always stuck with me. It’s so funny how we all watch the clock waiting for the work day/week to end, but also say at the end of the month/year that we “can’t believe how fast it flew by!” Go figure.

    When I was a kid, I actually disliked being a kid. I wanted to be an adult so badly. I was so jealous of the fact that adults got their own houses, and got to go wherever they wanted, whenever they wanted. Oh, how I hated to ask what everyone was laughing or arguing about and hearing “you won’t get it, you’re just a kid” or “I’ll explain it when you’re older”. Now that I am an adult, honestly, I do enjoy the freedoms that come with it and I really don’t miss being a kid. I do, however, wish I had been a little more patient. I think we agonize over time and the past because those are the only things that we can truly never, ever, ever get back once they’re gone. They’re GONE.

    On Friday I was lamenting the fact that I was about to enter yet another boring winter weekend with no plans other than to sit on my duff in my house avoiding the cold. As I started to berate myself for what a boring lump I’ve been all January long, the thought suddenly occurred to me: you’ll miss this when it’s gone. I remembered how in a couple months, when the weather is warmer and the days are longer, I’ll kinda miss these January days when it was socially acceptable to hole up inside and be lazy all day. And with that, I resolved to just enjoy my “boring” weekend instead of resenting it. And I did! I did nothing and instead of getting antsy I just let it be!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s it Hanna–that’s what I’m trying to say, right there–I think that change in perspective is what gives us back our time. Instead of hoping for the warmer weather and more active and exciting times you accepted and appreciated and sunk in to right where you were. My hubs and I have been Netflix and chilling SO hard, and I have been loving it. I always get screeners at work so we are working our way through all the Oscar Nominations each weekend. There was a time years ago that i would feel guilty about this–now I’ve learned to embrace it and enjoy it. In the summer he’s always meeting me after work to try new restaurants and we hit up festivals in different neighborhoods on the weekends. We explore like mad. It’s great, and I look forward to appreciating that time as well when it arrives again. But for now, I am so content to snuggle in blankets, and eat a little bit more comfort food, and park it on the sofa for hours at a time. Life is varied and wonderful–I love how there’s room for everything if we allow ourselves to recognize that space.

      I disliked being a kid too. I think I was a grown ass woman inside by the time I was four. I always wanted the freedom that adults had. I felt like I carried all the same burdens they were carrying–I worried about money, safety, schedules, global and domestic affairs–I figured I should get the same freedoms that came with all that weight.
      Sometimes when I look back at how I was as a kid it makes me sad. I wish i could have just been a kid. I wish I would have realized that I didn’t really have anything to worry about–really.
      Still, I think even being the worrier kid I was , i was far better at living in the present than I have been as an adult. There’s a shortness of attention span in kids that I think lends itself to living in the moment. Maybe attention span isn’t the best way to describe it. But there’s something I think. Something I’m trying to repossess now.
      Great thoughts Hanna, thank you!


  11. I am made aware of this change in timing as we age every day. My students often comment on how long the day is or how long it will be before we get to the next big event, while for me, I feel like I look up and half the year is gone! I want to slow down, but I’m not sure how you do that!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yeah I can’t imagine all the lessons and insights you get every day from those kids AJ. I’m still trying to figure out the time thing too–I guess all I’ve really come up with so far is trying to stay as present and in the moment as possible, without glossing over what we’ve come to know as “everyday” and “mundane”. Finding the magic in the mundane–I think that might slow things down a bit!

      Liked by 1 person

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