How is time measured when advancing in the years? Is it truly so different than the timepiece of youth? I feel these days that time is a finite commodity, no longer the infinite pendulum of early adulthood. But is that true? Do we seek to fill the minutes of the mind to ward off the end of those minutes? Do we do it as our last and best chance at leaving…what? A memory to someone or no one at all, an indelible mark on society or none at all?
It seems my sons and their peers never seem to find something “to do” and I can never seem to find something “not to do”. We come from a less standard generational approach. We are two generations apart, a result of my late in life entry into motherhood. Is it the fact they feel like time is always on their side that lends them to less of a need to fill all the minutes of their minds on a constant basis? Was I the same in my youth? Is boredom a necessary byproduct of the expanse of youth drenched time? Do they see no end to it and so they brush stroke the minutes in at a leisurely pace? Perhaps it is and perhaps it should be. What if that boundless space is interrupted with a grief or two? Does the color of mortality color the time of their mind permanently or does it merely form a shadow? I believe it can coexist in youth in an exquisite way with the shadow providing a brilliant silvery shimmer around the edges of the minutes of the mind for a very long time.
Is economics a factor as a hindrance or a help to the management of the minutes of the mind? I have no solid guess. I think back to my own very literal misspent youth and my less than large wallet certainly tempered my desires at times- at others not at all. But what if they had the means, would they go out and about or is the lack of things to do at their age the culprit? Does a thing need to be of a certain caliber for it to even be considered? Is my measurement and yardstick of the amount of mind minutes that need to be filled an unfair comparison for their very vast amount at this time in their lives? I suspect the answer is no to the former often and yes to the latter always.
What about immortality? Does the race against the mind clock truly guarantee us another week, a month, a year? I asked my last living paternal relative at 97 years a few weeks ago: what is your secret? Keep moving, she laughed, just keep moving. Sage and ironic advice. My father and his relatives, most over the age of 80, all had their mental states in perfect tact right up to the day they passed. Their mobility, though, left a lot to be desired. Legs and knees and ankles didn’t take the passage of time too well. Walkers and canes for some, sitting a lot for others. This particular relative employs her very smart tripod cane and off she goes. A casino here, a son visit there. Is that where my newfound love of motion at all costs comes from? Is that why, when I do stay home, the walls seem to enclose me as if in a premature tomb? Or is it simply my mind’s need to fill the minutes as best I can, as long as I can.
Where does the penchant for long term planning come from, I wonder? Do I think that having a concert ticket for five months hence guarantees the grim reaper does not visit, as if a concert ticket is akin to the garlic around the neck of a prospective vampire’s prey? Yet, I do, at times, seek the tickets forfeited by an untimely demise of a patron’s relative on the day of the show if I chose not to make this one a bargain with eternity. I don’t wish them severe sorrow, perhaps a beloved great grandparent whose funeral they must attend on the night of said concert. It could happen and it has.
I peel and peek back a dozen years at my inability to plan anything in advance of the next several hours. I thought this was a clear and concise result of the trauma endured from the medical condition of my then spouse. But was it? Or was this just a normal passage in the mind out of time sequence of one’s life. Youthful immortality was no longer at play to delay the filling of all those days’ hours and the mind’s minutes. Time as a finite commodity really had not set in as yet. So perhaps this was a simple transition of the mind’s adjustment to the days when you know for sure there is a true and real expiration date.
Perspective, the compass that points the direction to how someone will attend to the sunset minutes of the mind that comes with a certain age. There are those that will simply be still and allow the minutes to drain on their own like so much sand in the hourglass without being able to grasp not even a grain. I am not one of them. I want to touch and feel and squeeze and smile at every one of those grains as they pass through. The perspective is the energy source to do so. Nothing more. Nothing less. Not a bank account; I am bombarded with lots of free things to see and do and I do and see. Not excellent health; I drag a painful body part with me now and again as the pain in my brain from sitting idly in the suffocating silence is much much worse.
While the evaporation of the suffocation born of the silence of hostility brought a measure of comfort, its replacement with the fixated asphyxiation of the silence of a vacuum still leaves a measure of discomfort. Do I fill the hours of the day and the minutes of the mind to flee the walls caving in? Yes, but I am careful not to fill the silence again too soon so as to guard against a new silence turning hostile once more. I prefer instead to draw outside the lines of the minutes of the mind; to set no bounds, no expectations, no results, no achievements, no rebuttals or rebukes. I seek to simply fill the remaining minutes of the mind with the color of contentment.
5 comments on “Mind Out of Time”
This is a good one, Maddie. They all are good ones, but this one resonates. I can’t help but notice, as we all do at our advancing age, that the older we get, the faster time slips away. In our youth, summers seemed to last forever, but then, so did the school semesters. Dragged on and on, they did. To think even one year into the future was like looking at a point in time a lifetime away. Now, a year slides by in a moment. I feel like having children and grandchildren is the only way now to measure the passage of time, because WE don’t seem to age, but boy, those kids sure grow up fast. That’s just life.
Thank you so much Steve for reading it and your kind words.. I am always tickled when a published author likes my work!!
Like Steve said, this is a good one Maddie. All are good but this one really hits home. As a child, those long exhausting school days, those super long 3 months of summer living at the beach, it was just forever. We loved each day without thinking about tomorrow or the measure of time until it was close to the end. That last week of school was tough, forever away. The last week of vacation, I remember how much angst I felt but a week was still a long way away. As my career grew and my children were born I lived for my weekends, time began to go so much faster. As Steve mentioned measure of time was more by how quickly my kids were growing up not by what I was doing or how I was aging. I often stopped to think about my mortality and though a new generation was right behind me I measured time by my parents, when they reach milestones, 1/2 a century, 3/4 of a century, they were always so youthful and active, they were never going to die.
For 50+ years I felt comfort that as long as my parents were happy and healthy and alive I still have so much time to live and prepare for something better than what I was doing, stagnant in a job where I really wasn’t happy, but I had time because my parents were still living. And then 4 years ago everything began changing. I felt my life was being push forward into a time tunnel suddenly opening my eyes and seeing my parents so quickly, suddenly not so healthy, declining as quickly in their old age as a baby advances in it’s young age. Time was no longer their friend. Life began to take a toll as it prepared them for transitioning into their next journey and it smacked me in the face. I’m next, my children now where I once found myself, raising children not really thinking much about the time we have here, seeing healthy and active parents and so they measure their time by me, it’s kind of a scary thought. My mind set has changed, the sand is still slowly sifting through the hour glass but there is less of it and one day it will filter down faster and faster until it’s gone so I choose to be active, do and see as much as I can. Meet as many people as I can and be kind. Life is wonderful, but life is short. Thanks Maddie for your blog today and inspiring me this morning to get up and move!
I remember one day when I was nearing the first day in school. I was playing outside, in the back yard where my mother could watch me as she washed clothes in an old wringer washing machine and hung them on a line. She called me over and asked me whether I would prefer to use my nickname, or my real name when I went to school. I probably didn’t even know I had two names until that moment.
Getting to the point, that’s one of the few times I can remember not having something to do, and doing it. I’m sure there were others that I don’t remember, but most of my life has been spent trying to shove two hours of something into an hour of time.
What has changed for me is acknowledging that I really don’t have to do all those things. Some of them don’t need doing at all, and some could go undone for months or years with no notice by anyone but me. It’s become a late life lesson in prioritization. One I’m still learning to practice effectively.