With all the talk of Father Noel lately, I wanted to talk about another old man with a long white beard: Father Time. Often carrying an hourglass, he is the somewhat creepy personification of the constant flow of time. Otherwise known as Time Flies, the Race Against Time, Can’t We Stop Time, All in Good Time, and Time Will Tell.
Especially at this time of the year, our calendars are full, and our days are bustling with activities and festivities. Time bounds along so quickly, and one day melts seamlessly into another. We sleep, we wake, we hustle, we sleep again. January 1st approaches again and again, with the promise of yet another new year.
And yet, we find ourselves wanting to pull the brake and stop time from skidding away so hastily. Time is so elusive; it slips through our fingers just like the sand in Father Time’s hourglass. Our children grow so fast; it makes us choke with both pride and grief. Here I am at 42 years old, and my life is already half over. Wow.
Time zooms and blurs, and we can’t seem to slow down enough to even answer the important questions that lurk in the back of our minds: Am I living my best life? Am I passing the time with joy, awareness, and meaning? Am I running out of time?
I know that as I become older, I am much more contemplative, greedily searching for meaning in every dusty corner. I long for mindfulness, which seems to be the cornerstone to shushing the rowdy rush of time. This means being in the moment and sitting squarely in each experience, whether it be decadent, dull, or distressing.
Mindfulness, however, is not an easy feat, nor an easy habit to maintain. It means pausing (eek), sitting in it (ugh), and soaking it up (yay). Perhaps it will not make time slow down, but at least it will bring awareness to the beauty or devastation or meaning.
My 8-year-old daughter said to me recently, in her 8-year-old way: “It was just a year ago that we got Kaylie (our kitten), and now she’s so big. How did that happen so fast? It’s so weird to think of that. Also, when I started soccer, I didn’t know (teammate) Lilah at all, and now that soccer is almost over, I know her really well, and she’s so nice.”
It was a child’s first perception of the meaningful passage of time, a realization that life is always in flux, always changing. Nothing remains the same, and we are on a constant journey with an ever-changing landscape.
It’s heartbreaking in some ways, especially to mothers who remember the feel and smell of their babies, their chubby faces and tiny toes. Mothers who love the closeness of their devastatingly-complicated 8-year-old daughter burying her head into them. Mothers who try to get one last cuddle in with their unique, yet smelly, 10-year-old son. For mothers, the passage of time means children are growing up and away, a phenomenon that is both natural and completely tortuous.
And yet, there is no point in becoming too despondent over the scuttle of time because in the meantime, the next moment has already arrived. It seems the only thing we can do is embrace the here and now, and do our best to thrive in each moment. Mindfulness.
In the crazy hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I’m doing my best to park myself in each moment, let go, and enjoy what I can. We’re making memories; we’re making magic. As always, the best moments will pop up unexpectedly, those sweet little bubbles of joy, laughter, and love. I’m in the flow of Father Time, letting the sands of time rush softly through my grateful fingers.