In the background of life, time steadily ticks — loudly or softly depending on the day. From that split second when life sparked and you became a zygote, the timeline of your being began. Boom, you silently existed and not even your mother knew your timer had started. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years go by and you can’t stop time or go back for a re-do. Even as my hands type these words another 20 seconds of my life has gone by and yours too as you are reading this. We are on a journey that ultimately ends in the flash of a second when our life energy exits our bodies and we cease to be but memories to those who knew us here.
Time is hard to wrap my mind around. It is such a fluid concept. We measure it in terms of Earth’s relationship to the moon and the sun. The Earth’s rotation on its axis, the moon’s orbit around the Earth, the Earth’s orbit around the sun. We measure time linearly, marking our existence as we travel through space. My mind turns this thought over and over (and time continues to pass even so). Time is constant. Yet, my perception of time is not, nor yours I presume. This is especially true now as our news feeds flood with graduation pics, wedding photos and requests for prayers. It was true last Wednesday, as I stroked the head of my daughter’s 4-H goat as he unexpectedly breathed his last breath and lie still. Even more profoundly still years ago when I kissed my grandmother’s cheek the last time. My mind can perfectly replay the last time I saw her, sitting in a rocking chair on the porch with a blanket wrapped around her shoulder even though the thermometer read 90 degrees, the sun shining on her face. As I backed out of the drive way, I knew this would be the last time I would see her in this world.
My mind easily goes back in time. It goes back to the day I felt that flutter of life within my womb the first time and longed for those nine long months to hurry up so I could hold my daughter in my arms. Yet, that moment that seems so long ago and like yesterday at the same time, happened seventeen years ago. When running on the treadmill, a minute feels like an hour (or more like a week!), while sitting in a cool, darkened theater, watching a funny movie, time flashes by in mere minutes. The amount of time that actually passes by stays the same, even though my perception of it does not. While I’d rather that long drive to my next vacation destination feel like minutes and our time relaxing by the pool to feel like years, it doesn’t work that way. A week after I’ve returned to work and the daily grind, that vacation spot only weeks ago feels like decades past.
Mindfulness teaches us to live in the moment. It reminds us to focus on our breathing and to be grounded in the moment we are living this second. Doing so helps slow down anxious thoughts and the rehashing of the what-ifs of decisions past. It helps shut down negative thinking and self-criticism. I don’t have to record every moment of my journey with a selfie or a hash tag. Stopping myself from reliving the past helps me learn to be enough and be happy in the now. Yet, when that “on this day” reminder, pops up in my Facebook feed or the cycle of the seasons repeats itself in my yard – crocus > daffodils > tulips > star of Persia > peonies… Time reminds me that it is a precious commodity that once lived cannot be repeated. Yet, if we are lucky we are given another moment. While I’d like that warm embrace of a first kiss to last years and a sniffling head-cold to last mere seconds, I don’t want to wish away my time here on Earth. My life is seemingly not as linear as time dictates it to be, but my perception of time is a series of zigs and zags, stops and starts, ups and downs. Looking back on those memories remind me of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. Having dreams and goals give me the inspiration to take a step forward toward the future that will be here whether I like it or not. And being mindful of the moment I’m in right this second, allows me to be grateful for that ticking clock of life.
Why did I write this post on time? I’m not sure. Would I like the power to pause, rewind and fast forward time? Oh yeah! Well maybe. It sounds good anyway! Would you?