On Flying Time: Can We Do Anything to Slow it Down?
Posted on December 10, 2014
Time Flies. When you’re having fun? When you’re standing still? Having babies? In love? You’ve heard the longstanding adage before. What does it mean to you? And the bigger question is: What can you do to slow it down? To me, time is moving at lightning speed. One day, I was welcoming the summer sun in my mesh-covered beach chair, listening to the squawk of seagulls at a late June sundown. The next day, it was December. Just like that. As we get older, that phrase “time flies” takes on a meaning of greater significance. With the blink of an eye, years transpire and we suddenly find ourselves older versions of what we used to be, with more responsibility and with less, well, time. Time is flying – and we are chasing it with everything we’ve got.
Do you remember summer vacations when we were kids? From riding bicycles to catching fireflies, three months represented an eternity of possibility and unadulterated joy. Back then, we anticipated getting older, interjecting ourselves into adult conversations, clunking around in high heel shoes, rounding our ages up in halves. I remember watching my mother wash dishes as a little girl. “I can do that,” I would proudly announce from below. And standing a foot taller on my powder pink step stool, I would roll the yellow gloves to my shoulders, sponging a pan too heavy for me to lift. Those were the uncomplicated days. The carefree days. The days when time appeared as limitless as our imaginations.
And then we got what we wished for. Suddenly, we had college degrees and jobs and relationships and houses and cars and kids. Did I mention responsibility? When did all of that happen? Possibly around the same time when the colorful, striped birthday candles were replaced with big numbered ones. Nothing screams “fun” like the numbers 3 and 1 atop a strawberry sheet cake. But why does time seem to be moving faster than it used to? The answer? It’s not. The minute hand does not make any more revolutions around the clock when you turn thirty, or forty, or fifty. The number of hours in one day has not decreased. The clock ticks the same way now as it did back then. So what has changed? Maybe it is because, when we were kids, we didn’t think too much of it. We savored new experiences and the excitement of each of life’s “Firsts.” I am referring to the firsts of everything: first bike ride, first pet, first kiss, first love, etc. We perceived time to move slowly as children because each experience and each discovery was a new “first” for us. Everything was more memorable because it never happened before and, thus, the days seemed to last longer. Each day, whether with worms or bugs or secret hiding spots, we relished in new discoveries. We didn’t feel the pressure of life as we do now. We just lived.
In this deadline-driven world, we run on autopilot. We wake up, brew our coffees, eat our Cheerios, drive our cars and zip to and from work, school and appointments. Our days are routinized. We stress about having enough time … all of the time. Glancing at your wristwatch at 12 a.m., project deadline looming, you may have mumbled to yourself at one point or another, “If only I had just one more hour.”
Maybe it isn’t time that is flying – maybe it’s just us. Maybe we are all moving too damn fast. Okay, sure. There is no magic delete button which rids our lives of responsibility and pressure. It comes with the territory of being a responsible and successful adult, right? But perhaps we can slow ourselves down just a bit. Of course, I’m not suggesting that we stop hustling and bustling completely. We need to keep moving to support ourselves and our families. However, perhaps we can create a balance between working, and working to make new memories, to making new Firsts. Perhaps we can commit to relishing in new discoveries, just as we did when we were bicycle riding, firefly catching kids.
So, let’s not waste too much time thinking about time. Instead, let’s focus on making the most of it. Let’s live like we did when we were kids, in the now and to the absolute fullest.
Let’s jump atop the wings of time, strap ourselves on, and enjoy the ride, my friends.