I stand in front of the microwave, waiting impatiently for the two minutes required to heat my left-over coffee from yesterday’s brew. I think, “this is two minutes of my life, idly passing by.” I set the laundry dryer to thirty minutes needing the sweater that lies within for a luncheon visit with friends. In the late afternoon, I come home, tired but exhilarated, and climb into the hot tub, set the timer to the maximum twenty minutes and stretch out, relaxing until the buzzer signals that “time is up”. Meanwhile, dinner is in the oven with the timer set to an hour. Yet another hour of my life will have been neatly measured.
These mechanical timers are all useful gadgets in the day-to-day of our privileged, modern existence. But today I am thinking of a different era, when life was lived from dawn to dusk, when the sun or the moon were the timers of our lives. As children, we played until parents signaled “time is up”. We set to a task and did what we could till we were too tired to continue, or the daylight receded. We counted time, by the beginnings and conclusions of tasks, by the planting and harvesting of crops. Nature provided the cues for the passing of time. Even now, this October day, as I watch the leaves changing colour, virtually before my eyes, I think of the timelessness of this event in nature. It occurred before my birth and will cycle on after me.
We are all timers. Our internal clocks go tick-tock, tick-tock, like the metronome on top of the piano. Occasionally I try to turn off the timers, slow down the rhythms of the heart beats, in part to forget how quickly it is all passing by. Moments alone, by a fire, indoors or out, sitting by a lake, on top of a hill, in the garden, reading, thinking, or just imagining a tabula rasa state of being, provide that momentary stay again the intrusion of time.
Wordsworth’s lines from “Daffodils” come to mind: For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood They flash upon my inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils.
So here I sit, in the midst of all the beauty of my favourite season, and yet my mind is also thrusting ahead to the emergence of spring as time ticks away. It is all a grand illusion, this attempt to “play with time”. But play I must, since, each day becomes more precious than the last. So I harbor my memories jealously, bask in the moment selfishly, and wait patiently for the inevitability of spring.
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WRITING ONE'S LIFE
Whether we realize it or not, we are all authors in one way or another. As children we created worlds that disappeared when realism intruded into our psyches. Who of us did not have imaginary friends? Some of us still do.
As we go through the most productive periods of our lives, however, we are compelled by responsibilities to live realistically within the cooperative confines of family and societal expectations. One of the joys of Aging, if we allow it, is that we are now able to escape the bonds of other's expectations. We have earned the right to create and recreate our lives at will.
Occasionally we may go back to reread our favourite moments (memories), but new books, people, locations, ideas are awaiting our arrival. Why would we want to disappoint them or ourselves.
In this site I hope to explore all the many ways women of my generation are choosing to deviate (ooh, like that term) from the horizontal line, and instead will squiggle, turn right, turn left, jump up and down, anything except onward as usual. I hope you will join me in exploring all of our creative options as we live our lives with gusto and elan.