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Everything Happens One Day at a Time

Old man with pocket watch

Time travel is a science fiction story. There is a desire for it, in our day-to-day lives, but it's not real, it has never been real and it will not ever be real.

We live day to day. Some of us live hour to hour. Our travel through time is in our imagination, and oh, how real that imagination is sometimes! It allows us to dismiss the reality - that everything happens one day at a time. For everyone.

As you age, time becomes more important to you. You recognize its limitations. You see it as a concrete thing - it's palpable, sometimes. We, of a certain age, look at time as a friend, or an enemy, and a mystery, at any given time.

Time is our friend

Time is our friend because we've learned to embrace its waywardness. We like that time flows freely one day and drags like a spoiled child the next. There is variety in how time interacts with us. Every morning we rise, often at the same hour of the day we rose yesterday, and we glance at the clock (is there any home in America that does not have a clock, or a phone with the date/time glow on its surface, in the bedroom?), as we slip our legs over the side of the bed, to gently search with our feet for our slippers, which may have been pushed into disarray during the night when we rose to hobble blindly next door to take care of business.

That glance at the clock is telling.

It has enormous repercussions. In that one instant, we are offered either a positive sneak peek into the day or a dark, gut-wrenching punch in our stomach. The positive comes when we are happy with the time shown on the clock. The dark, gut-wrenching comes when we see we've overslept, or worse, that we are up an hour earlier than we had planned on being up.

Time is our enemy

Any individual over say 50 will tell you that time goes by faster and faster as you age.

I am not sure why we perceive time in such a different way, as we age. But we do.

We notice things more. We notice the way the sun gleams through our office windows, even as it has to slip through last year's smudges and dirty trails of rain, still clinging to the window, like yesterday's blurry reminder that our eyes don't work as well as they used to. 

We notice the way traffic sounds different at certain hours of the day; a hurry-hurry of the tires of so many cars passing down the hill on their way to work; or the slow hum they make on their way home. 

We notice the way the morning seems to slip by unnoticed, because we get busy cleaning, or working in the garden, or writing a blog post, and suddenly it's afternoon, and the day is almost over.

We notice these things because we lament over all the necessary things we have to do, want to do, will never get to do - now. Now that we're officially, according to statistics, old.

Time is a mystery

Time is a mystery

I read about time, a bit. I try to understand it. In days of old, very old, time was just a passing of seasons. Man had not invented the clock.

If you look at time as the mystery it is, you recognize that we humans spend our entire lives trying to control it. And still, mother nature, who controls time with a tight fist, I think, laughs at us and proceeds to tear our little lives into bits, with her displays of power.

Is weather a function of time? I think it is. Again, assigning the label most people use, mother nature rules the universe of our lives, by teasing us with good weather or beating us down with bad weather, or just offering us a glimpse into the power of wind and rain and sun. 

It's a mystery how we continue to think we have any way to manage or control our time.

I guess, on a day-to-day basis, looking at how everything happens one day at a time, we can create spreadsheets with words on them that relate to the clock of our lives, and we can sit back and bask in how well we have arranged our lives. 

And still, in the end, our lives start and stop by some clock no one knows, hidden in mother nature's apron, perhaps. 

It's not so much the starting, that concerns us - once we start, and oohs and ahhs of the new baby delight, stop - we bend to the flow of history - where time beckons us with some number assigned to us as if it defines who and what we are.

We are not so old 

If you would be so kind as to not refer to us as old, we would appreciate it.

Age is a construct of society. A way to dismiss too many people. A way to pretend life cannot have purpose or delight, if you've outlived your usefulness.

And so, we shout that we are useful. You have not yet used us up! How dare you think so!

We may view our world with eyes full of days gone by, but that's the experience of time. It's valuable in ways too many dismiss, today.

We may see your career path, or the insistence you have to believe this or that, as humorous - given that we remember being so obstinate at your age. 

We may see the world, and life, as a construct of each moment, rather than a memory of days gone by. 

We may act 'old' - because society formed a notion that how we walk, or laugh, or talk, or remember - is a function of our age, and that number makes us... old.

Time is the same for you and for me and even for the dog

Even the dog

I paused in the writing of this post, to walk the dog. 

We live in a fairly rural area that is being built up around us but still leaves plenty of trees and creeks and land, to favor the eye.

The dog, Emily, enjoys her walk - up this hill and that, then down again. She noses other dogs, or gets scolded by them and just ignores them. She plays her blogging game, sniffing here and there, leaving a pee-spot as a comment, and finding something delicious now and then, which we have to pull her away from.

She is 11 years old, in dog years. That's a good bit of age on her bones. It's apparent, after each walk when she craves a rub of her back end, that she is having a bit of trouble getting around. It's not apparent on the walk, but if you watch her following, you see that she, like myself, is fighting with time to stop robbing her of her favorite things to do.

There is a big difference in how a dog manages her time and how a person does. A dog doesn't think in terms of time. A dog just...does what a dog does.

Within the construct of time, we humans spend too much time trying to change ourselves, our surroundings, our view of the world. We think it should be this way today, and that way tomorrow, and when we reach the age of retirement, we have been taught to let it go. We've been told we can now relax and go about our time without worry about this afternoon or tomorrow or the hurts of yesterday.

We are taught that time no longer matters. And then, we hear it matters more than anything - to hurry up and get the bucket list done! (I do not have a bucket list and find little reason to have one).

The Childishness of it All

Somehow, as a child, time lingers and you allow it to be a warm thing of summer afternoons, full of anticipation.

And, as you grow, you lose that wonder. You are thrust into the hurry-up pace of society telling you to grow up, get a job, be an adult. And you are fooled by your parents and other adults that 'being grown up' is something to aspire to. When clinging to childhood and youth is probably the better proposition.

In the end, everything happens one day at a time. One moment at a time. One breath at a time. And, how you embrace that realization can make you or break you, because... as I said, time travel is a construct of the science fiction community.

Your community, your life, whatever your age, exists within the boundaries of your joy for life, your imagination for new things, your belief that anything is possible, and your desire to never grow old.

I am old. And, I am not old. 

I am slower than I used to be, but it's given me better perspective, I think.

I'm smarter than I used to be, because age is full of marvelous experiences - good and bad - that teach you so much! - if you but open yourself to learning. 

I am both happy and sad, more so than in years past. Happy because I know what real joy is and I have my family near and I have done a great deal with my life. A little sad because I missed out on opportunities that were right there in front of me, ready for my grasping, and I passed them up...thinking I didn't have time for them. But, I know now, that I did.

No advice here. Just an essay about life - from the perspective of one who has lived it, for a good many years.

Come Follow me on LinkedIn where Tom Collins and I share insights into writing and publishing a book, via Master Book Builders. 


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