When you are young, time has little meaning. This is reflected in the plaintive question which has plagued so many parents on long drives: Are we there yet? For a child, anything past tomorrow lies in the unimaginable future. Anything past last week is ancient history.
Time weighs increasingly heavy on our minds as we slowly grow up – and doesn’t that seem to take forever – and come to realize that we will in fact live until we are thirty. Maybe even older! Still, there seems to be endless time to do something, be someone, combined with a tremendous impatience for it to happen right now.
I think that feeling stays with us into our thirties. It seems that – any time now – something will happen that will change everything. We will finally know what we want to be when we grow up and we will finally get busy accomplishing things. For some of us it happens early; for others, it never quite congeals.
We get married forever. Some people succeed – they never cease to amaze me – but others have to get married forever several times before they finally get it right. Some realize they are better off alone. Time passes as we settle into our skins and accept that we are who we are.
Eventually, you realize that you have accomplished things, that you have become the person you were meant to grow up to be. For most of us it is a relief; for others, a disappointment. That yearning – much like that of an unhappy child who longs to discover his real parents were royalty – continues to eat at us. In the worst cases, we throw away everything we have for one last chance at the brass ring. It only comes around so often.
Occasionally a few of us grasp it and life is indeed better; others miss and tumble off the carousel. For them, life is merely different.
It all comes around again. You come to a point in your life when you realize that there is much more behind you than there can ever be in front of you. One person might cling to religion and the promise of another life; another might plunge into new activities, new situations. Or they may revisit something they always wanted to be but never got around to becoming. A return to school is not an attempt to recover youth but a desire to fulfill youth’s dreams. Without the consequences of future responsibilities.
Time does run out. We narrow our focus and limit our dreams. Hedonists pursue that which might give them pleasure in the moment. Practical hedonists dole out pleasure in coffee spoons, knowing they still have to pay the rent and buy dogfood to eat in their final years. Everything becomes a balance on the knife edge of eternity.
Eventually, last week becomes a distant memory (even while the experiences of childhood become crystal clear) and anything past tomorrow seems like a blessing. And then…
Which is all to say that I’m feeling a little old today. Time to buck up and see what the next moment holds.
And that’s ten minutes.