Time is a pretty strange concept when you start to think about it. It’s one of the few things in life that no one really has control over, yet something that everyone possesses at one point or another. We hold onto it, we waste it, we give it to others, and we can never get it back.
With twenty-four hours in a day and twelve months in a year, time is a fixed idea. Sixty seconds tick by and before you know it, a minute is gone then another and then another. The sun rises and sets each day at variable times, but the pattern persists for most individuals. Wake up, exhaust the daylight hours, go to sleep, repeat. Sure, the activities of each day will inevitably vary, but we intrinsically are living just as the ancient cavemen did. Granted, we have technological advances that can keep us up well into the night. I’m looking at you, Internet!
The older I get the faster it all goes. Seems like just yesterday I was eagerly waiting in the hospital to become an auntie for the first time. My niece turned four last month and her younger brother and two cousins have added to the “Auntie’s kiddos” tally. I blink and suddenly a new month requires me to turn the calendar page and another year flashes by at warp speed. Spring has barely arrived and before you know it, Christmas will be here and 2013 will be over.
And it seems that just as quickly as time passes, we are always wishing it could go a little faster. We count down the hours and days until the exchange of vows, the healthy diagnosis, the exciting journey, the reunion with loved ones. Hell, sometimes we’re just willing the weekend to get here.
As Tom Petty once sang, “The waiting is the hardest part,” and he was correct. No matter how old we get, anticipation of something—whether good or bad—is the only way to get the clocks to cool their proverbial heels and slow down. Our views of time vary depending on each circumstance. An hour at the office can feel like a decade while a two-week getaway at an exotic location can seem to be over as soon as it started. Why is it that the things we don’t want to do appear to suck up all of our time while the things we like to do pass by so quickly?
It’s all just a matter of perception.
I am constantly aware of each minute during my hour-long spin class, staring at the hands on the clock as I push myself through sprints and hill climbs, ignoring my burning muscles and drenched skin. It’s grueling and always feels like I’ve been sweating at the gym for much longer than 1/24 of the day. Yet, an hour spent with my nephew and tubs of Play-Doh flies by without so much of a look at the clock as we squish the colorful, salty compound between our fingers and get lost in make-believe. The amount of time is the same, but one’s enjoyment of the activity will determine how quickly or slowly the time passes.
It’s not just about whether we like how our time is spent or not. Each person goes about his or her days and nights in a different way. Some people, more content to live in the moment rather than by a schedule, can easily float through their days without ever knowing the hour of the day. While others, bound by the constraints of every minute, find that planning their days, months, and years to be more conducive to their own contentment. And there are some people who find a happy medium in the two extremes, comfortably existing with deadlines and unplanned hours.
Whether you feel like you’re racing through your life or waiting for it to begin, I hope you all fill your days with pleasant moments that you can recall long after they’ve passed. There is no right or wrong way to spend your time.
And don’t ever let anyone convince you otherwise.