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They Wait For No Man

I’ll leave the tides and moon to work that out for themselves while asking if time is speeding up for you as well as I?

I know there are times when we wish it could move faster, times of peril or pain or perhaps just interminable waiting for whatever comes next.

For the most part, however, I think we all would prefer more time. All meaning those of us aging rapidly. But, again, are not all of us lucky to be alive, aging rapidly or not? Can we truly slow the aging process?

Sorry, this is definitely not to be about the artificial means some of us use to appear younger (or so we think). I think of a well-known figure in the community with a toupee which occasionally slips. I’ve heard the catty laughter. What does he think he’s hiding? Still, I suppose if one can see himself in a mirror with whatever artifices and accept it, who are us to criticize?

Let’s talk instead about the rapidity with which our days fly. I am still at the breakfast table mapping out my day through the dinner hour when, next thing I know, it’s time to start cooking. And, if the days whiz by, what of those years? Decades at this point simply disappear in the blink of an eye.

If you speak regularly to young folks, you’ll quickly discover that eye blink is hardly universal. Remember waiting for Santa? Could one night possibly have lasted that long?

Alex Ross wrote in The New Yorker of an occasion he spent with Yo-Yo Ma as he spoke to a number of students. The students pretty much agreed that a week felt very long. Even a day seemed long to them. “‘Now this is weird,’ Ma said, ‘ because for me a week feels like a nanosecond. When you’re interested in something, time goes really quickly. When you’re bored, it goes really slowly.'”

“He got out his cello to illustrate the point. First, he played a bit of Mark O’Conner’s wistful ‘Appalachia Waltz.’ It was not what the students needed at the end of a long school day.” Ma then asked the class how long they felt he’d been playing. “Too long,” one young critic whispered. The students said perhaps fifteen or twenty, maybe even twenty-five minutes. They were surprised to be told it had just been over a minute. (One is guessing these were not music students.)

Ma then played the Gigue from Bach’s C-major Suite. This is lively, driving music that was played with Ma’s “usual precision and elan.”

“Sounds great,” one boy said.

Still, they agreed it was long — just not that long.

I suppose we can all agree that the speed of time can vary according to the circumstances.

But, as we do get older, it certainly seems to speed up — days, the weeks and months whizzing by. If you’re close to my age, you probably think of last year as yesterday. I know I’ve had an occasion recently to search out the date of something which occurred in the recent past. More or less. It felt like last month but experience tells me it had to be last year, maybe two years ago. Seven? Nah, impossible. Only not as impossible as it seemed.

I have a friend, rather mathematically inclined, who tells me it’s simply a matter of simple arithmetic. Presuming one lives to 100, when you’re 10, a year is 10% of your life so it seems like just forever. At 50, that person’s year is just 10% of his life. But then at 75, one’s year becomes just 1.3%.

I can understand that. I can see where it might make sense. Only those with whom I regularly converse don’t see days or years — or their life — in fractions.

Is our memory fading as we age? I’ve heard people say that but I don’t believe it for a minute. Sure, I forget things. Honesty, I forget more now than I did ten years ago. It makes sense. I have so much more to remember — everyday new facts, new people, new things, new news. My storage is not unlimited. I am still human, not a computer, and when input increases some of the old has got to go.

Fact. Is it any consolation to be told the number of minutes in an hour can vary? The year 2017 only lasted 365 days, 5 hours and 39 minutes. Hang on until 2032 and you’ll get 365 days and 6 hours with no extra minutes.

Tell me you’re going to remember that tomorrow.

Susan Crossett has lived in Arkwright for more than 20 years. A lifetime of writing led to these columns as well as two novels. Her Reason for Being was published in 2008 with Love in Three Acts following in 2014. Both novels are now available at Lakewood’s Off the Beaten Path bookstore. Information on all the Musings, her books and the author may be found at Susancrossett.com.

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