Happy New Year Everyone.
As always, it’s a surprise how quickly 2014 soared high, burned bright and became a thing of the past. I often hear, ‘this year flew past and it gets faster every year.’ But does it? Time, as we humans have defined it, is a fixed thing. It ticks along at 60 seconds for every hour, 24 hours every day for 365 days in every year, even accounting for some inaccuracies resulting in annual second corrections and leap years. We coordinate our lives by the inexorable forward movement of the clock and calendar.
So if time is constant, it must our perception of the world and events that speeds things along. We all remember as children how long it seemed until our next birthday or next Christmas or simply how darned long the school year was because a) we wanted the presents while it took forever for the next set of gifts to roll around and b) most of us hated the imposition of rules and learning on our time with friends and having fun.
Somewhere along the way, our lives became intertwined with others. We looked for friends and partnerships that for many of us are still part of our lives. We began work and hated that needing to earn money got in the way of enjoyment. The weeks became blurs and we looked forward to weekends that ended up never long enough for the fun we worked hard for. Then came responsibilities like homes to keep and cars to run; time began to speed up more as even the weekends weren’t enough to do everything we needed to get done (housework, washing, ironing, time with the kids/friends etc). Familiar, right.
Add to that the exponential increase in connectedness that modern communication has brought. News the instant it happens, Facebook, blogs, Twitter and so on. As a child it used to take two weeks for letters to get from Australia to The Netherlands and another two or more for the reply. Telephone calls to relatives and friends overseas were ‘hens teeth’ rare and even local calls were kept to a minimum. By the 80’s we had telex machines, then came facsimiles and in the 90’s, with me right on board because it was new, came the internet and mobile telephony. Today, we don’t think twice of a quick call, SMS, Skype, FaceTime call, Tweeting, posts on FB and email – instantaneous connections. I’m absolutely convinced this enhances the perception of the speed of time for so many things are happening all at once, even if we are not directly involved.
So here is 2015. Yet I’m sure only a few years ago, 4 or 5 maybe, that I was watching the 9pm fireworks from the courtyard at New Parliament House in Canberra on 31 December 1999. Michael and I were there with two of our closest friends to attend the Millennium Ball. We spoke of the past and wondered about the future. We were still in our 40’s but the 50’s were looming and the 60’s were out of sight. Our kids were in their late teens and doing their own thing for only the second New Year. We had a ball at the Ball and we looked at the new millennium with awe – after all we had all read/seen Asimov’s ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ and even if space was not as close as those in the 50’s and 60’s might have dreamed, we knew more about it now and how much harder it would be to make those long journeys.
Life went careening along and our 50’s came and went. Mike and my 60’s arrived with a happy and delightful combined 120th birthday party and we counted our blessings. So, last night, at the stroke of midnight, Mike and I were abed and snoring. Our kids, with kids of their own, were spending the time with friends and their children, and 15 years had rolled past in the blink of an eye. I find myself delighted at being a grandmother, semi-retired, living in a new place with new and fantastic friends that my 48-year-old self, ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhhing’ at the midnight fireworks of 1999/2000, would never have guessed at. And life is still very good.
So why does it seem only a few years ago since that Millennium Ball, or even 1980 when I had my first child? For me the answer is that I filled every day with exciting, fun, scary, difficult and fascinating things to do, people to meet, kids to raise and get through school, more work and retirement to plan for. Every day began with ‘What have I got on today?’ and headed forward from there. Only occasionally did I glance in the rear view mirror to see what happened yesterday or the day/week/year before.
So when I did, or do, glance in that rear vision mirror, the years seem to have sped by at a faster and faster rate as I filled them with more things to do, a partnership to nurture and revel in, kids to support emotionally and financially, life goals to achieve, careers to build, friends to cherish and visit, family to keep in touch with, hobbies to find and do and far too many good books to read. Along the way there were a lot New Year’s resolutions that ended up unfulfilled, at least in the year I made them.
So my conclusion about the speed of time is that I filled it with wonderful people; my husband and children, my parents now long gone (sigh), the extended family on hubby’s side and those fantastic people who became family to an odd Dutch girl (you know who you are) and so many careers I lost count at 6. Now I am embarking on anther career in vocational training, although part-time. So another factor in the perceived speed rushing years is as a result of a full, hard-working, useful existence.
My New Year resolution for 2015 is that I will take a few moments each day to reflect on how absolutely privileged my life has been so far in the hope that it might slow time a tiny fraction; a look at the past, throw a comma into my life, along with a small prayer of thanks sent into the Universe for being one of the extremely lucky few able to say that I am happy and content. And if it doesn’t slow things down, Meh. I love being me so….
In editing this I realised I never mentioned the difficult times. Those times simply made me stronger and more appreciative of the good times. And yes, my glass is more than half full and I’m an optimist.
Dear Reader, I wish you all the best in 2015 and the years to come. I hope you find time to look back at the good things in your life, and even if 2015 races by faster than you would like, I wish you the ability to find happiness and joy so you may appreciate every single moment of it.