I sit here at my computer, watching the morning sun rise outside my window. After a flurry of activity this past week, beginning with helping friends move into their new apartment, followed by the annual visit of our family from New Jersey, days of conversation, shopping and patronizing the area’s eateries, the house is eerily quiet. Most of the excitement we looked forward to at the beginning of summer has too quickly passed, as has summer itself. Back in June, we had a wedding, a trip to Europe, visits from friends and family, and helping our friends from Poughkeepsie move into their new homes, to look forward to. In addition to this, How quickly time passes!
Life, however, is so full of changes, that another group of events will soon fill up our time. Fall is a busy time anyway, with two holidays built-in. After a grueling experience with the builder, the banks and the closing process, our friends finally have the keys to their house, and will be moving in September 9th. (We already have their daughter and family settled into their apartment). We have another wedding to attend. This time it will be our turn to visit the family in New Jersey, to attend our niece, Becky’s, wedding. Maybe we’ll take a few days and relax in the Poconos before the fall activities kick in with Halloween and Thanksgiving. At that point the train speeds nonstop to Christmas.
I had a very interesting conversation with my son, Steve, today. He has become a philosopher of late and proposed an interesting theory. We were talking about how much faster time seems to pass as we grow older and his take on it is this:
As children, we meet with new experiences ever day – the first day of school, winning a race, riding a bike without training wheels, learning how to swim, climb a tree, drive a car. Since each experience is new, it becomes a strong memory and the way we mark the passing.of time. For example, I remember breaking my wrist the summer I was five, because I had just finished kindergarten and had to go almost all summer without being able to go swimming.
While in school, each year is a new beginning , the routine broken by holiday and summer vacations. Then there are the divisions of school elementary, middle school, high school and college. We pass through these partitions of our lives, experiencing new and different things in each one. But then grow up., we start our families, and we go to work, where many of us fall into same routine day after day, year after year, with only the occasional holiday breaks and a couple of weeks of vacation to experience new things.
Over time, even our holidays take on sameness as we form rituals and traditions and no longer try anything new or different. Roast beef for Thanksgiving? Perish the thought! And with nothing brilliant happening to form memories around, it feels as if our days are just melting, one into the other.
Steve’s solution to this problem is that we should try something new or experience something new as often as we can. To focus on living life every day. To push ourselves out of our comfort zone and venture into the unknown. These experiences do not have to be crazy or life threatening. We don’t have to jump out of planes or take a canoe down the Amazon, (although if that floats your boat, go for it! ) Many people create a bucket list of wild experiences they’d like to have but It can be as simple as choosing a Thai restaurant for lunch if we’ve never eaten Thai food before, or going fishing on Saturday instead of playing golf, or reading a science fiction novel instead of the latest from Danielle Steel. How about stopping to talk to a new neighbor or one we’ve never met on our evening stroll?
Recently, my husband and I have tried new experiences such as taking cruises, and exploring London on our own. Those moments form strong memories. They stand out in our minds like a beacon of light, and when we try to remember when something happened, we can say, “Oh, that was the summer we went to Europe.”
Steve suggested to a friend of his ,who was afraid of falling too much into routine, to hang a bulletin board on a wall, and add a picture, a note, a drawing, a ticket stub, something to keep track of the new experiences. When too much time has slipped by without an addition to the bulletin board, it’s time to spice things up.
None of us want to see a great vacation come to an end, and we know that time must pass, but we can enjoy what time we have by shaking things up a bit, doing things which create the vibrant memories that last a lifetime. And so that one day, when our time has run out, we can look back and say, “I’ve had a good run. I remember so many good days.”
“Life is precious,” Steve said in our conversation. I agreed, adding, “so is each day.” Let’s not lose another precious day to mind numbing routine because our precious life waits to be lived, not merely endured.