Today as I celebrate my 69th birthday, I acknowledge that I am now beginning my 70th year on this planet. Now it truly seems impossible that this is happening and I know many of you out there can relate to this feeling. Wasn’t it just a few years ago that we graduated from high school or was that college? Did I not get married just yesterday? Has it really been all those years? How well I remember my mom telling me on her 90th birthday that she did not know where the years had gone, that she did not feel like she was 90 years old. How well do we relate to that? After all we are looking out of the same eyes and though folks may see a few gray hairs and wrinkles and kids may call us old, most of us over 65 do not feel old. We consider ourselves to be in mid-life. Old might be ninety or it might be all in our heads and hearts.
Time is tricky for sure. When we are deeply involved in projects we lose track of time. We tend to forget how long we have been working at a computer or reading a great book or gardening. When we are bored or waiting for an airplane time seems to drag … an hour seems like forever. It is all so relative … time.
Max Tegmark, a cosmologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said in a recent piece at Forbes.com that, “If you feel there aren’t enough hours in a day, just wait. In a few hundred million years, tidal friction will have slowed Earth’s rotation to make the day 25 hours long.”
Even with that extra hour, if we all keep moving as fast or faster than we are now, the extra hour won’t help a bit. I worry most about our kids when I think about how fast we move through time and space. I know I sound old when I say that they are growing up in a world very unlike the one I knew at 8 or 10 or 17. But the reality is they are too used to being on the move from early dawn until they fall into their beds at night. It all starts with being rushed off to day care when they are six months old. Then at 5 and 8 and 18 it means being at soccer practice, dancing lessons and a host of other extracurricular activities. When do they learn how to be still?
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I fear the adults who are racing about are not very good role models for youth. We teach them instead to over schedule their days, to be involved in too many activities and to hurry through malls, grocery stores and life. Boredom enters their lives if they are not racing about or watching 4 things on a monitor (TV or computer) at once.
I hope as adults we can change the role modeling by changing the way we live. Time is such a gift. So is being still. Let’s teach this to our kids.
Mary Friedel-Hunt is a freelance writer.