Today is my son’s 34th birthday. This morning I was reflecting on how quickly time passes and how short life really is. It’s like when you stand in the center of a room and spin and spin until the dizziness makes things blur out and you begin to fall over. That’s how I feel some days in my mid-60’s. Dizzy with it all!
I read somewhere, not too long ago, that the perception of time moving more quickly as we age is a reality proven in physics. I’ll have to find that article or my notes. It explained it well, and I was glad to find that it wasn’t just my imagination.
As children, days stretch out like a long windy road that seems to have no end, and hours literally tick off in minutes. Ten minutes til you can go over to SueSue’s to play; five minutes of punishment in your room; be back in an hour or I’ll be hollering for you; or the worst — just wait til your father comes home. Long minutes in childhood to fill with imagination, creativity, make-believe. Bikes, paper dolls, and dress up for me.
For my son — Ninja’s, skateboards, Star Wars. My daughter, five years older than Mike, Stawberry Shortcake dolls, ice skates, and dozens of playmates roaming our house. I had so many long minutes, as a child, I sometimes had trouble filling them. I’m bored, I’d say. My mother would quickly and willingly find a solution to that problem.
But now, the days are so full – mostly full of ridiculously mundane tasks and daily chores – so full and yet so empty at the same time. Unless, we consciously decide to take a detour in our day. What if, on your way to the grocery store, you turned a different direction and found an art museum, gallery or a park? What if, on the way to the washing machine, you walked out the door and took a walk and met someone new on your block? What if, on your way to the hardware store, you detoured off the beaten path and did some off-roading? What if, instead of taking the same route you always take to the (fill in the blank ) you turned at the corner and meandered along side streets in that general direction? You might find an antique store, a new gelato place, a restaurant destined to become your favorite.
Believe me, I am writing this to myself more than to anyone else who may end up reading it. If I don’t take detours, I can guarantee that, in what will feel like two hours, I’ll be wishing Mike Happy 35th as I quickly approach 70. It will flash by like one of those old stereoscopes where the cards flip so fast you feel you’re watching a scene.
I think of life like that some times – my life as a scene in a movie – one long boring scene— instead of a book with many chapters; each filled with some new characters, some new location, conflict, drama, love and sex and quiet moments on the beach.
For you who actually know me, I’m up in Heber again, and I’ve come to realize that when I’m here, the minutes start to feel longer; they have empty spaces between; and the hours and days grow slower, then slower; and I sometimes even find unexpected boredom that is more likely relaxation. I drive on roads I’ve never seen; I meet new people even if I never see them again. The speed limit here – for at least six miles — is 45mph and they enforce it. The first day here, my right foot is so accustomed to freeway driving that it feels odd and difficult and forced. By Day Three, I may be going 40 in the right lane. I get off Hwy 260 and drive north to a tiny town and find the best pie I’ve ever eaten or a Mormon family history center or a boutique. Ahh, I say — that’s it! That’s the draw. Weather – yes, of course; green grass and trees and flowers and lakes and parks – yes, of course. But maybe at age 66 the main attraction is newness and a fresh way to slow down time.
There are hundreds of ways to do this in our own environments, in our own communities, in our own daily lives. We just have to remember To Take The Detour!!