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