On the Passing of Time

“For time is the longest distance between two places.”    -The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

Lately I have been aware of time passing by.

(I can hear the voice in my head saying, “Yes, it’s called getting old.”)

My mind conjures up an image of prayer flags flapping eternally in the wind, on the ridges of the Himalayas.  Though I’ve never been there, I feel as if I have.  And I wonder when I will actually go.  Not if, but when.

I am aware of time passing through physical changes in my body.  Like wrinkles at the corner of my eyes, or cracks in my joints when I stretch, random aches, or fatigue, or the inability to eat as much as I used to.

I am also aware of its passing through the accumulation of past memories, snapshots and frames of events, places, people that I remember, feelings that echo in my heart.  Those feelings sometimes leave an imprint as if it just came into being yesterday.

I am aware of its passing through an old melody, although I’ve heard it thousands of times and can recite it at will, it evokes feelings and memories I have buried deep within my heart that I am not able to trace the origin of.

I am aware of its passing when I see the care on my parents’ face, the way their backs have stooped just a little more since I last saw them.  The way they are not as healthy as they used be.

I am aware of its passing when I still remember vividly children who were once much younger, or even before they were born.

I am aware of its passing when I walk through old streets that have stood the test of time, a testament to the history and the reflection of the stories that once happened there.  I can feel the ancient roads and sidewalks as I step-by-step trace the path that I’m sure many have trodden before me.

Paris, 2015

Yet, there is nothing I can do to slow the passage of time – my mind takes a snapshot of a certain moment but it came and went in the blink of an eye.  Time is the fairest of all.  Whether it is a blissful experience or a terrible encounter, a minute is always a minute.  I will one day cease to be here and when I am old I will probably remember very little.  The truth is that – we can’t remember it all and most of the mundane is probably not worth remembering.  I am truly afraid of the day when my memory fails me and I no longer recall the face of my loved ones.

And so I am painfully and acutely aware of the passage of time. ‘Live in the present’, they say, and ‘make the most of it’ but that actually has the effect of making me squeeze too much into the time that I have.  It limits me from living in the present, because I am too busy cramming things into my future. Ambitiousness takes its toll. The other extreme is that because things are so impermanent I feel rendered helpless by the futility of it, and I cease to do anything at all.

Where do you fall between these two extremes?



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