The days seem very short now that I am in my 8th decade. (Can that possibly be true?) Even though it is August, with the autumn equinox yet to come, I keep feeling that I am getting nowhere fast, days whizzing by before I can grasp them, slipping through my fingers like sand.
Bernadino and I watched a BBC documentary on the subject of time a few months ago. The presenter theorized that time seems to go faster as we get older because we have fewer new experiences, while for children, a butterfly kissing a flower, a drifting cloud, the taste of strawberries, hearing a new nursery rhyme, all are a cause for wonder and delight. As the years pass, not much seems, on the face of it, new anymore;we adults have had routines for decades, not years; have seen and experienced so much we hardly see it anymore.
After all, how many times can a man shave and still find it thrilling? A woman put on lipstick? We brush our teeth, get dressed – put on underwear, socks, pants, shirt, or skirt pretty much automatically. I bet most people even put the same foot first putting on their underwear. I do. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner have come regularly more than 76,000 times by the time you are 70, and whether you prepare something different each time, or eat at a new restaurant, it is still breakfast, lunch and dinner.
But I don’t think it is all down to habit and routine, nor that changing the way you shave, put on your socks or your route to work will make any difference, as the presenter suggested. Theoretically, not a single micro-second is the same as the last one; the world changes, the very cells of the body change before you can exhale. If I could live only in the present moment, life must be endlessly fascinating. But I, for one, don’t always pay attention to the present anymore. My mind is busy predicting the future from the past, re-interpreting the past, feeling nostalgia or regret for the past, or pasting hopes and fears onto the future. .
I have lived in California, north and south, Paris, the south of France, and now, southern England. It doesn’t matter. Nowhere is different from another, basically, unless I am. If my own sense of wonder at the present moment has slipped away, I am marching in place, while the immense, loving, present whirls around me.
- Land of Enchantment
- Battle of Britain