A few days ago a mother and a cute baby walked into the lobby where I work. The baby could not have been more than a few months old: still innocent, still smelling good, still vulnerable and attracting attention. My employees ooohed and aaaahed at the little rascal each outdoing the other to get a smile from the chubby face. Then out of the blue one of the ladies asked me: “Do you remember your kids this little.” It was a pie in the face moment because if truth be told; I did not. Now when I think of my children, I think of them as adults. I really have to put an effort on my gray cells to think back because it seems like only yesterday that they went from drooling diaper ridden urchins to two wonderful adults. Where did the time go, and how did I miss it?
“Time flies by so fast” I suppose some moronic sage said that and the world took on the mantra. But seriously: does time’s velocity have any correlation to our age? The older we get the faster time goes by? A few years ago I heard some old self-proclaimed “doctor” on one of these psychoanalytic reality day-time show say that the reason time seems to go faster as we grow older was because based on a person living 100 years, a person at a younger age has longer to wait before reaching a hundred than say a person turning 70. He was equating our age to a clock: the closer we get to midnight the faster time seems to be going than at one in the morning. As goofy as it seems, he might have caught on to something.
I remember how as a kid I wished that time would go faster especially in the spring in anticipation of summer, and in the fall in anticipation of Christmas. As kids we never seemed to have time to accomplish anything: anything we wanted to anyway. When pregnant I wanted time to fly because during the last trimester I found myself becoming an animal lover; empathizing with elephants whose gestation period is in double digits. I bet time crawled for them as well. I wonder how the male elephant fared under those circumstances, living with a female gestating for all those months in hormone turmoil. I digress and pity the tusked fool. You get the picture. I do not think that time goes by faster as we grow older; I think we grow slower in relation to time. What used to take a few minutes to accomplish when young, later in life it takes a millennium. Have you ever walked behind two old ladies carrying groceries?
My father must have been the exception because he literally did not have time for the mundane which meant that he did not have time for half of humanity. His attention span went from hundred to zero in micro-seconds much like the way he drove his car only in reverse. He had a leaded foot on the road and did not like pedestrians because they were on “his road and right of way” and as a pedestrian did not like drivers who refused to stop for pedestrians because they were on “his road and right of way.” Catch my drift? For my dad and until the day he passed I doubt that he or time ever slowed down. Putting kids, gestation, old ladies, and my dad into an Einstein-like equation, I concluded that there was only one viable explanation on time.
Time stands still for those of us who as we grow older are molded into thinking that we should slow down. “Take it easy, you are not as young as you used to be!” Familiar? Why do we have to be reminded about how old we are getting or how old we are? Don’t these people know that we DO KNOW how old we are getting and we definitely KNOW how old we are, some of us just want to ignore it. Humor us for God’s sake! We are not asking for much, perhaps we want to have the choice to take our time. There is a difference between growing older and getting old. Cher grew older but never got old…of course she had help from her own Botox god but that is another story for another day. Society sends us mixed messages: those over 60 are now the “new 40” which deflates all ages following. So why are we still harping on acting and dressing “our” age when youth and energy are glorified and worshiped like an Aztec god in Peru? Nobody questions Madonna’s age!
Last week I watched an amazing 80 year-old dancing with her 38 year-old Spanish dance instructor on a talent show. As they transcended from a slow almost clumsy waltz to a heavy salsa, the once pitying looks on the audience changed to incredulity and awe. Age did not matter as those 80 year-old light tight feet and thighs seemed to lift themselves off the floor in rhythmic moves and glides that secretly urged us to look for hidden wires that must be pulling that little old lady across the stage like Peter Pan. Surely no octogenarian can do that? Well, she did! She had been dancing since she was five years old! Go figure, time is surely not flying by for her (excuse the pun). Even stoic Simon Powell had to admit that the lady was amazing, and that her extraordinary dancing had nothing to do with her age: she was a good dancer.
My 97 year-old mother sits in the lounge every morning wishing that another day would pass quickly and bring her closer to being with my father: wherever my father passed to. Being in a seniors’ home contemplating how to pass eight hours of every day must be tedious to anyone, let alone a 97 year-old. To her, time is crawling by and if she could move the earth faster around the sun, she would. She is not tired because she is 97; she is tired because she knows that she has nothing else to contribute. That is the reason why time flies for some while for others: it crawls. When my mom was a “mom” she complained that there weren’t enough hours in the day to do everything. Now she complains that the day is too long and so are the hours. Does time really flies by? I don’t think so. I think it simply adapts to us.