The passage of time is less part of the human condition as it’s part of existence as a whole. It happens in the blink of an eye and there is nothing we can do about it. It is, nevertheless, something many of us struggle with and try our hardest to avoid at all costs.
When I was 18 my dad told me that my mind would stay relatively the same for the remainder of my life. Of course I would learn new things, and my worldview would evolve, but the voice that engaged me in internal dialogue would remain the same. At the time I thought he was crazy but as I’ve grown older, I realize he was right.
The world around us changes every day, and while the lenses we see it through might change as well, the glasses holding those lenses (our consciousness) stay the same. It feels like I had that conversation with my dad yesterday. Turns out it was a full decade ago. I have the same family, the same name, some of the same friends, and the same memories as that 18-year-old kid, but instead of getting ready to go to college, I’ve now been out longer than I was in, and I have a few grey hairs to-boot.
It’s no wonder people have midlife crises: we feel like we’re still in the prime of our lives, but we wake up one morning and we’re closing in on middle or old age and our whole world is rocked. But it doesn’t have to be. Here are some ways to not freak out about the passage of time:
It’s going to happen whether we want it to or not, so we may as well strap in and surrender to the flow. It’s going to take a lot of internal work, but if we can sit back and accept the fact that time will pass – that our “prime” will come to an end, that our kids will be out of the house before we know it, that the people we grew up idolizing will move on to the next plane – we’ll be setting ourselves up for an easier adjustment.
To do this, we can’t live in the past. We have to understand that as humans we grow older and the inertia of change is unstoppable. Understanding this will allow us to embrace the passage of time gracefully.
Watching everything around us change in the blink of an eye is unnerving, but these are very familiar shoes for every single person who came before us. It’s a rite of passage. We’re supposed to be obsessed with staying young and virile – there are multi-billion dollar industries dedicated to it – but embracing the passage of time instead does a couple things: it stops us from living with regret, and it allows us to open ourselves up to the unknown next steps our lives will take. Only once we embrace the inevitable can we begin to enjoy it.
Being young and self-sufficient is incredible (I guess it’s why it’s called the “prime of life”), but it’s not where enjoyment ends. Hell, it’s barely where it begins.
The passage of time gives us more experience and knowledge in all corners of our lives, a clearer view into what we truly enjoy in life, and, hopefully, a more secure sense of who we are. Add all these together and we’ve got a recipe for enjoyment. Let’s make the most of what’s ahead of us because it’s coming whether we want it to or not.
We’re going to wake up one morning and our youth will be behind us, and it’s going to be sooner than is comfortable. But before that happens, let’s take in as much of it as we possibly can. Let’s make this life as enjoyable of a ride as possible.
Until next time – I can’t believe it’s been so long.