Monday, June 22, 2009
IT'S ALL RELATIVE
A while back I was chatting with my parents in my kitchen about a family event. We were trying to remember when it took place. Finally, I said, "I think it wasn't that long ago. Maybe two years." My parents nodded. Lilly, who had been playing with her plastic horses and eavesdropping looked up in horror.
"Not too long ago? Two years!?"
"Well, that does seem like a long time when you're only 11 but when you're older it seems like a short time, like maybe a few months feels to you," I tried to explain. "Isn't that how it is for you, Grandpa?"
"No," my father replied, "Two years is more like a long afternoon for me."
Indeed. If we are to believe Einstein (and why wouldn't we?) time is relative. And so Lilly's two years represent nearly 20% of her life and a mere 2.5% of my father's life.
As anyone over the age of 12 knows, time accelerates as you get older until one day you are 49 and you say things like, "I saw him not so long ago at the 20th class reunion," and realize that was more than a decade ago.
My father called me on my birthday this year and said, "Well, this is a big one for you!"
"No," I reminded him, "I'm 49, next year will be the big one."
"Right, I know. But that's just around the corner."
These time/age games can be fun and alarming to play. Let's look at the year 1994. You remember that year pretty clearly, right? It was 15 years ago but that's not so long--True Lies was at the movies and Bill Clinton was our president and Sheryl Crow sang, "All I wanna do". Hardly ancient history, right? Compare that to what was going on 15 years before the year you were born. Go ahead, I'll wait while you do the math. Wait, how can that be? I was born in 1960 so fifteen years before that --World War II was ending. WHAT? Wasn't World War II like in the 1800's or something?
Nothing makes you feel that time flying past you faster than having kids. In a blink they are babies, toddlers, preschoolers. Now it's even faster; junior high, homecoming, learning to drive. I feel like the ride that is parenthood has sped up from a jaunty merry-go-round to a zero-gravity space ship in which your cheeks fly back as the rocket takes off.
If only I had some meaningful interpretation of today's ramblings but I really have not much more to offer than the obvious. Life is short. It gets shorter every second.
So enjoy this summer day and enjoy Joni Mitchell as she sings the best song ever about time passing.