Time Flies, So Slow Down & Enjoy the Moments
Sometimes, we get maudlin thinking about how quickly we move through life. When we look back, we realize how time flies by so quickly.
It seems like only yesterday when Barbara moved to St. Louis and met Margaret, Barbara's kids and then grandchildren were born, or Margaret's three kids graduated from college, got their first jobs and then her husband passed away. It's longer ago that we graduated grade school, high school, college and married.
We write the date of a new year on a check and think, where did the year go?
What happened to all those special moments such as family gatherings, celebrations, successes at work? We marvel at how quickly our children grew up. Our lives have gone whizzing by like information on one of those microfiche machines at the library.
The only time Barbara finds that time goes slowly is when she's participating in an activity she dislikes-a recent plane flight where she counted down the hours from takeoff to landing-about 120 minutes-or when she's in her dentist's or hygienist's chair. The hands on the office clock couldn't move more slowly.
Margaret tends to be impatient when waiting whether it's on hold for tech support to talk to a live person or to book a flight, in line at the pharmacy or grocery store or waiting to hear about test results from one of her doctors. However, the usual speediness of time hit Margaret recently when she saw the Broadway show, "Birthday Candles," her first live drama in almost two years. The main character, played by Debra Messing, watches time fly by with, as the Playbill writes, "its joys, triumphs, laughs, mistakes and losses. along the way." One day the main character is celebrating her 17th birthday and suddenly it's her 18th birthday, even sooner, her 40th, 70th, 90th and 101st. Life is a rush; it's a blink. We get one chance, the play emphasizes.
If only we could go back and have do-overs.
When we were young, time crawled along, and we couldn't wait to be a year older or hit our teens and get our driver's license or be able to have a drink in a restaurant or bar.
And then whoosh--we became adults, and nobody ever asked our age. But we were busy with our jobs, kids, houses and errands, our trips our experiences and our aging parents.
We huffed and puffed through life trying to take advantage of what it had to offer. Sometimes, we took a breather, such as a trip abroad to realize that 30 minutes is actually an inadequate lunch break or 10 days per year was actually not enough vacation. How we wish we had a month, and then with retirement and our older years, we had 12 months to savor more slowly if we had retired or cut back.
There are many reasons why so many of us are unsuited to a slow life or seem unable to slow down, unless we do so for health reasons or, as we all recently experienced, go through a pandemic. That's when time seemed to stop as we found ourselves in lockdown and unable to pursue our various out-of-the-house activities except work and maybe a trip to a grocery store when we felt safe.
Many felt the two-plus years were a waste of staying at home and doing little. Yet, some found they were never more productive in new ways without needing to commute to a job in an office. The two of us used the first year to write our latest book. Margaret's son composed, played and mixed an album. Barbara's older daughter married and had a baby. Her younger one switched to a full-time psychology practice out of her home office. Some painted or started a new hobby such as knitting or cooked, and perfected, dishes never tried before.
As time ticks away, the echo of past years has never felt louder. Can we slow down the clock? No. We both are fast-pace oriented; our metronomes tick a little quicker than most. Both of us live with a sense of impatience, adventure, excitability. We walk fast, talk fast, interrupt fast, type fast, eat fast, clean fast, read fast, write fast. It's a habit and habits, as we know, are hard to break. Is it wired into our DNA? We're not sure. Every day we talk to ourselves and each other: "Slow down, what's the rush, time is precious and becoming more so."
Margaret has a new regimen to teach herself to slow down. When she's walking quickly, stop and take two minutes to walk slowly. She sets the alarm on her iPhone. This, she has found, builds awareness of time and pace that, if she keeps this up, may spill into other activities such as eating or writing. A new habit will form hopefully.
Barbara now starts the day with her coffee and then an exercise class at a local gym/spa. She ends the day with a walk around her neighborhood if the weather permits and enjoys a home-cooked meal. It's a nice routine that offers bookends to enjoying her awake hours more consciously. And at this time of year, she tries to take time daily to check her garden and see flowers and plants bloom. Some of them seem to rush too fast-emerge and then disappear.
These are goals. But we've learned with a bit of discomfort that even doing nothing productive is a goal we can try to incorporate into our busy lives to give us permission to slow down, relax, read, nap, just sit quietly for a while and take in the precious stillness. And now with the vaccines and the slowdown of the pandemic, our lives are more likely to include a hedonistic vacation or trip to a spa, hotel room, eating out in a new restaurant or favorite old one, visiting friends we don't get to see nearly enough and attending more concerts and shows which we only recently started to do again, albeit slowly. We want to be safe but also savor life fully again. Where's the balance?
At the same time, we can chuck some of the bad habits that are a time suck such as watching too much TV or listening to someone complain over and over about the same topic. Jane Fonda announced that she is giving up drinking for she has only so many "tomorrows left."
Yes, time flies. Enjoy what you can while you can. As the song goes, "It's later than you think." No matter where time takes us, we can try to be mindful of the moment we live in. If we manage to do this, count us lucky. We certainly know we are.