How Does Time Affect Me?
By Jeff Salter
For some reason, this week the old Rolling Stones song has been in my mind: “Time is on my side.” Though, having passed the age that Medicare enrolled me, I’ll have to admit that time is actually NO LONGER on my side. In other words, I’m on the downhill slope. Difficult to discuss time without factoring in one’s age, you know.
Time is a funny thing.
When I was a kid, and we were on our way to something enjoyable (like swimming, for example), it always seemed to take FOREVER to get there. Yet, on the return trip – same distance – we arrived home in just a matter of speedy moments.
When I was age 14, it took (what seemed like) six years before I turned 15 and could apply for my learner’s permit to drive.
In the late spring of my senior year in high school, after I’d taken all the tests, written all the papers, and there were perhaps a dozen (or fewer) days remaining until graduation night… that period was an eternity.
When I went into Air Force Basic Training, our six weeks training period was very rigidly divided into 42 days of class, exercise, drill, and testing. And, of course, marching from event to event. When we finally completed that first grueling day, we knew we still had 41 to go. And the remainder of the course slowly – glacially – ground down until there were only a handful of days left to endure. And those final days – despite a slightly lighter workload and considerably less harassment by the drill instructors – seemed longest.
Also in my military hitch was my 12-month overseas tour to Thule Air Base, in northwest Greenland, above the Arctic Circle. Those first few days (and weeks) of that tour seemed not only interminably long, but I realized I still had hundreds more to go before I could rotate to a new assignment, stateside.
I also recall that long wait for our firstborn. The doctors say pregnancy lasts nine months, but to me it seemed more like two years. “When is that baby gonna be born?” I’d ask my wife. [And in those days (1971), the ladies did NOT get all the ultrasounds and other tests which determine gender and healthy formation.]
All those examples are merely to illustrate that for many stages of my early life, time appeared to move slowly — horribly slowly. But since I took an early retirement from the public library profession – over 10 years ago – I’ve found myself on a different clock. Now time races by.
Funny thing about retirement. There used to be a cultural sense that when a person retired – unless they had specific plans and interests to pursue – that they’d just sit around and vegetate in a state of unrelenting boredom. Later, retirement came to be seen as that opportunity to do stuff you couldn’t do before. When I worked full-time and retired people would tell me how busy they were, I felt like calling them liars. But now that I’m one of them, I can honestly attest, I feel busy all day, every day, and the weeks zoom past my eyes in a blur. Two of my weekly days which have their own fixed, external schedules are Church on Sunday and Senior Discount grocery Thursday with Mom. Each week, it seems, when I realize the next morning is either Thursday or Sunday, I say to myself, “Already? The last one was only ten minutes ago.”
Anyway, as a retired librarian (and presently “full-time” author), I feel time speeding by me. Weeks seem like days, days seem like hours, and hours seem like minutes. I look at my grandkids and remember it was “just yesterday” that their parents (my offspring) were merely children of that same age. Where did all that time go? Can a complete generation race past me with the speed of an action movie car chase?
My siblings and I sometimes commiserate about age, and how much nearer we are to the numbers provided by insurance company’s actuarial tables of life expectancy. Gosh, I never imagined I’d be this old. Heck, I still remember being in grammar school and noting how “OLD” those first year teacher were!
I guess a good way to show the juxtaposition of time (then) and time (now) is this: When I worked full time, my days crawled by slowly and I’d be thinking, “when is this week EVER gonna be over?” But in my retired years, I look up at a calendar and say, “is February gone already? Where did it go? What happened?”
Is time on your side?
[JLS # 322]