Time, so they say, flies when you are having fun. Does that mean it goes excruciatingly slow when you are sad or suffering? I would have to say that the answer to this is a resounding yes.
A good friend of mine recently told me that when she feels sad, she feels really stuck. Every aspect of her life feels absolutely lousy: failed relationships, dwindling finances, unsatisfying employment. At those times, the whole ball of wax that is her life is one big, sticky, yucky mess. And the worst part of it is that—when she feels this way—it seems as though that general yuckishness is simply her natural state of being. In those moments, she is pretty much convinced that life is going to feel that way forever.
Then, she gets some sleep, dreams a little dream, wakes up, takes a shower, goes for a nice bike ride, has coffee and a sweet roll down by the lake, listens to something on the radio that makes her laugh. The next thing she knows, she feels good again. She remembers that she has many things for which to be grateful. Then, she feels even happier. Suddenly, time’s pretty ponies speed up. The race is on. Just like the wind, time again flies.
I think about time all the time. I am always trying to jam more things into it. I am always trying to do “one more thing.” As all my friends and relations will tell you, this habit of mine makes me invariably late for things. Furthermore, I do way too much multi-tasking on any given day. On a typical evening when I get home from work, you might find me folding laundry, paying bills, eating dinner, answering emails, checking Facebook, and writing a paper for school all at the same time.
Really? At the same time? Okay, not literally in the very same instant. But I have gotten really adept at sprinkling my instances around. Tonight, a case in point. First, I fold a couple shirts and pair up a few sets of socks. Then, I open a bill and decide if I need to pay it now or can put it on the pile to be dealt with after pay day. Then, I take a bite of the eggplant sandwich I made from left-over roasted eggplant, a slather of horseradish, and two nice, thick slabs of melted mozzarella on an old crust of bread that I almost threw out this morning. But I saved this heel because it had not gone moldy yet and boy, am I ever glad I did. This sandwich I am washing down with a glass of Merlot is making me exceedingly cheery right now. Must be the horseradish.
Email, Facebook. Check and check. I’m not writing a paper for school, but I did a bit of reading and now I’m writing this blog-entry so I can post it first thing in the morning before I go to work. And the race with time will begin again.
I am reminded of the young girl I saw riding her bike past the middle school last week. She was riding fast enough that her long auburn hair was trailing behind her. She was riding no-handed, this because she was texting as she pedaled. She was pretty good at it, too. (When I told this story to a friend of mine, he reported a recent sighting of a teenage boy riding down the street with a pizza box in hand. The young lad, as it turned out, was enjoying a couple of slices of pepperoni and sausage on his way home from football practice.) What has the world come to?
Being that it is now the autumn of the year, I am thinking quite a lot about time passing, and how often I forget to savor it by doing too many things at once. It is now the time of year that an elderly gentleman I know refers to as “sweater weather.” I love this moment, when leaves fall off trees, the air chills, and the world prepares to go dormant for awhile. It is a dying, melancholy time, but it is also the time of Sunday afternoons devoted to the making of soups, to the raking of leaves, and to the anticipation of Halloween, the holiday that marks the beginning of the descent into the year’s bright end.
Well, it is late now, and I should sleep. I will only do one more thing, and that is leave you with a poem. It is by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889), and it is one of my most favorite poems about the passing of time. May it remind me, tomorrow, when I wake up and read my blog to myself, not to try to do so much all at once, but rather, to do one precious thing at a time. The best way not to mourn myself is to remember I am still here, and my two hands are always free to do the work that is right in front of me.
Spring and Fall
to a young child
Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
Gerard Manley Hopkins