I've been thinking a lot about time.
It is that thing that is not renewal, even if Auntie Maxine says it, we can not always reclaim lost time.
My late father told me once, "Daughter, I have more years behind me than in front of me." He was only in his mid-sixties. I smiled at him, the way adult children sometimes do. Little did I know that Daddy would be gone from this earth at only sixty-nine years, six-months. Far too young.
Time, not the way our capitalistic society, Androcentric, production driven culture of America, is not something that can be controlled, maximized, or even sold.
But it can be taken.
It is a funny thought, to look back through the lens of years and years to contemplate what you have and haven't accomplished with your presence on this earth.
Perhaps it is Covid and the Delta variant, maybe thinking about so many gone, or it is just that my youngest child, second daughter, is starting her senior year of high school. How did she suddenly become a young woman who drives and has flown several states away by herself. When did all that happen?
Parents understand how fleeting it is.
Maybe not when expecting that little bundle of joy or even through the hard toddler years until they reach an age when they can somewhat express themselves, but we know.
Eighteen and out is what I said to my two older sons when I was a divorced mother in Chicago just trying to make it. Little did I think then how fast that would go by, long before the Internet and social media sped it up, young people were considered adult after graduating high school and a parent's primary job is completed.
How wrong I was.
Maybe that is also contemplation, when we realize we are never finished with that job, even when my Daddy was in his final hours, he was parenting, assuring that I was going to be ok in this world without parents.
So we know a little bit about those passages, those moments when we want to hold it still and try to etch in our brains the touch of a chubby soft hand, the smell of one untainted by the world, the toothless grin from a voiceless baby whose whole world is you, those moments.
We can't buy it, not really, even if employers think they can put a worth to it, management and manufacturing calculating how much of something can be done in fifteen-minute-increments.
It is like water, like air, it is always there and yet, it is always fleeting.
I am looking back forty years and pondering what I have done. Not the wandering-in-the-wilderness and hoping our story is redeemed, I'm looking back through generations and thinking about legacy. My oldest grandson is six and started kindergarten. I'm a grandmother, can you believe it? I still hear myself as if I were sixteen or seventeen trying to claim a place in the world, discovering who I wanted to be.
The other thing I was pondering about time is how if feels agonizingly slow when the activity taking it up is not feeding one's soul purpose or how fast it zooms by when the smart phone is turned off, the notifications turned off, and the experience engulfing everything. It is suddenly night time and the day is over.
Driving lets me think about time.
Especially when I am not in a hurry to get to point B from point A to punch some clock that measures the worth of my day. When I am just up and down the coast, looking out over the sound, and letting myself be present with what is, time seems like all there is.
It was the other day when I decided to drive down to Greenwich from Woodbridge, to test out if that would be a worthwhile commute. Technically it takes 53 minutes to drive. Going down took an hour-and-a-half, coming back during rush hour took two hours. Is something wonderful worth three-to-four hours every day?
I wondered about all of this at different moments in the past almost two years.
We are coming up on the twentieth anniversary of 9-11, next week, my fifth born, first daughter will turn twenty. How did two decades whiz by? What have we done since then? What of the next twenty years? Will I be here, will they be here?
Covid, like I said, has also had me thinking about it.
So many gone long before they were finished with their natural purpose. Some leaving in rapid numbers now because they think there wasn't enough time to test this vaccine so they refused it. It is like a huge vacuum and then a wondering.
How long until natural immunity sets in?
How long will there be debates about putting something over your nose and mouth?
How long until we feel like we can really breathe again without war and conflict and hurricanes and fire and all the other things happening in our time that seems accelerated because of human actions?
Maybe it makes no sense, this wondering, after all, I can't add to it or take away from it, it just is.
Like that old soap opera, The Days of Our Lives, like sand in an hourglass, it can't simply be turned over at the top of another hour.
I want to stop it for some things, like my last child entering senior year. I want her to be that bubbly one who never crawled on all fours and my days were filled with caring for a couple toddlers.
Yet, it truly waits for no one, the decision then, is how we choose to be present with it.
The other thought about it is when someone takes it.
Like nonsensical meetings at work via Zoom and you have to be there. Or taking advantage of it and not paying for it, or waiting, like for an artist to show up three hours after the concert was supposed to start.
That can make one think long and hard about what else could have been happening in your life.
I am looking forward forty years and praying to not have any of it wasted.
There are still places I want to go, words I want to etch on paper or type on a screen. I'm not finished yet. My TBR pile is filled with amazing authors, so much to experience.
And that is the thing about time, it is not finished yet.
As much as the doomsayers try to scare folks, time marches on. Generations after generations exist in their world and look back to ponder what we did all day.
We will never know what tomorrow will bring.
We can only hope to be in it.
And celebrate every moment, for it is history within seconds.