I don’t pay attention to it on a daily basis, but the passage of time is quick and fleeting. When I actually take the time to pause and ponder how quickly the days and weeks pass, it’s amazing to think of all the moments and even full days that pass through my consciousness and are then so easily forgotten. Yesterday was my 31st birthday and on several occasions throughout the day, I gave a quick thought to time and what it meant. I considered memories I have and how my life has progressed. Here are a few things that passed through my mind…
I can still vividly remember my 18th birthday, which landed right before my graduation from high school. There was a large family and friends dinner at the Olive Garden, and I remember thinking how I had some really important years ahead of me with going to college. It was a milestone year with crossing the threshold from child to young lady. I imagined at that time what my life would progress into being, but as the years passed, not everything happened the way I’d dreamed or planned.
My college years seem like a blur now. Four years of academics, study, and educational practice are mushed into only several clear memories. I have those times of recalling what appears to be a still picture in my mind…moments of class, work, leisure, etc…, which can be recalled only as a fraction of the time actually spent in college. I know there were whole semesters in college that felt eternal at the time…obnoxiously incessant…but now I look back on them with hardly any focus or recollection. How crazy and sad to think that whole months of time can vanish or be consolidated in the collective memory.
Five years of marriage before having a baby: I have more memories of this time than college definitely. Andrew and I had so many good moments. We bought our first house, traveled, got our first pet, and lived through starting careers and me changing my career. We made friends and lost friends. We discovered what it was really like to live in the “real world” and exist as adults. Some times were tough but I can’t categorize that time as a time of hardship or anything. Times were mostly sweet and we loved fiercely. We’d always made a commitment to work on our marriage and not let the daily doldrums overwhelm our love. It was during our first five years of marriage that we learned the art of balancing a healthy relationship and marriage with everyday adult life. We continue to work on this balance to this day.
On July 20, 2011, Ella Grace was born. We’d made a conscious decision to plan for a baby after five years of marriage, and when she came into our lives, of course everything changed. She’s almost three years old and I can reflect on these past three years and overwhelmingly say the time has flown. However, I also can pinpoint specific nights when Ella was an infant that felt endless. Those were not quick nights; they were like endless repetitions of feeding, rocking, crying, only to be fed again and repeat the process. I can affirm that lack of sleep and no real sleep schedule can make one feel like time is at a sluggish crawl. I recall the first month of Ella’s life and how so many mothers told me, “Enjoy these precious moments. The time flies by so quickly!” I also recall grunting in disagreement to myself and thinking, “This has been the longest month of my life, and I don’t think these moments have been precious at all!” Now that I look back with hindsight, I can agree with those mothers that time does pass so quickly when you start to measure the life of a child with weeks, months, and then years. I could originally count Ella’s life span by weeks…then months. Now I count her life span in years. 365 days pass, full of moments and memories, before I pause to reevaluate her life and what has occurred. That’s how birthdays work, right? A birthday is a marking of the crazy amount of time that has passed in a person’s life, whether it has gone quickly or slowly. Ella’s first year was monumental in all the memories it holds. So many things happened with her and lots of growth and change occurred. Her second year went a little faster, and now as I think back on her third year, time is once again a blur. Full weeks of everyday activities: school, work, errands, time at home, etc… get lost in the sea of time and memories. My daughter’s childhood is being remembered by me in only snip-its. It’s distressing to think so much of her existence is getting forgotten because the passage of time is so unforgiving. Holidays and special occasions stand out; quick, funny comments from my witty girl get written down to be remembered. The majority of life gets lost, though. How sad it makes me.
However, as I evaluate my age and where I stand in a life I hope to live into old age, I’m still much like I was at 18 years of age: I see many years of change and progress ahead of me – the ability to continue dreaming and hoping still exists. Reflecting on my memories reminds me of how important it is to focus on moments – quick nanoseconds – and cherish them. I urge anyone reading this to make a commitment toward walking through life in a cognizant manner – be awake! Pay attention to the faces, the words, and the laughter you encounter every day. Take pictures; write about life. Allow yourself the chance to savor the time so that after it passes and years are gone, you can remember the sweetness of the seconds, the minutes, the hours, and the days.
11,324 days. 271,776 hours. 16,306,560 minutes. 31 years. In the grand scheme of a life with longevity, it’s not a lot of time. But many things have happened and many lessons have been learned. I will focus on living and cherishing each moment so that another 16,306,560 minutes don’t pass me by in a haze.