25 February 2017

Changing Time

Have you ever noticed how much more quickly time goes by as we get older?  With each year that I spend on this planet, time flies by much more quickly, and what used to take forever to get here (how long does Christmas take to come when we're six?) now flies in on a supersonic jet and leaves just as quickly.  Vacations?  They used to last forever, but now they're over almost before they start.

In the summer when we're kids, it seems that Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas are far away in the future.  I know as an adult, though, that not only will they be here before I know it, but they'll also be over with almost before I realize that they're here.  It's almost frightening to think of just how quickly our days pass.  Is this what Einstein meant with his theory of relativity?  That time, for example, is relative when considered by different people at different ages?  In different situations?  It seems to make sense.

But what does this mean to us?  So what?  Does that make a difference in our lives?

I say "absolutely."  If our lives seem to be passing more quickly as we grow older, then it's very important that we be aware of the faster time and try to make more of it while it's passing.  If I know that this coming week is going to go by more quickly than weeks used to, then I need to plan into the week things like long walks and bike rides, rather than just assuming they're going to happen.  I need to plan on finding time to talk to friends and read books and relax, because it probably will be very easy for me to get caught up in the many tasks that face us each day of our lives and let the days go by while I'm moving from task to task.

I also need to let go of things more quickly.  I need to let go of the anger that I feel for the person who did something bad or rude to me or someone I care for.  I need to let go of the worries about work or money or the car.  I need to let go of trying to make things happen in the way that I want them to happen, and let go of my often-unrealistic expectations of others and their behaviors.  If I don't let go of these things, then my all-too-short days will be less enjoyable and more stressful, and that can't be good for me.

If we move to a new city or country, one of the first things that we do is learn about the laws of the place so that we don't find ourselves breaking those laws.  We do this out of respect for the place and the people who live there, and we do it quite naturally.

When we move to new places or into new situations in our lives, though, we tend not to do the same thing--we just assume that things are the same.  My life right now, for example, is not the same as it was in high school, and it's not the same as it was when I was younger and doing work that wasn't career-oriented.  One of those differences is the speed at which I pass through time, and the significantly less free time that I have.  If I want to get the most out of this life I have, I need to recognize that rules and laws change as I make my way through life, and that days aren't what they used to be, and weeks aren't what they used to be.  They don't last as long, and I spend much more time in each focused on things that have to be done rather than on things that I want or need to do.

Are your days and weeks shorter, too?  If they are, that probably means that you just need to plan in a few more of the things that we used to do as a matter of course, the fun things that kept us young and alive.  If we don't do this, what will we do tomorrow, when we find out that twenty years have passed us by?  Personally, I want to look back on those twenty years and see a time that was balanced between fun and obligations, recreation and work.  It's completely my choice, but unless I'm fully aware of the changing laws, I'm not able to make that choice.

Don’t be fooled by the calendar.  There are only as many days in the
year as you make use of.  One person gets only a week’s value out of
a year while another person gets a full year’s value out of a week.

Charles Richards