The Passage of Time: Things I Cannot Fathom

I think my brain has about a 20-30 year lag time, since that seems to be how long it takes it to catch up with the reality of my life.  I’ve become especially aware of this lag lately.  It has been hitting me like a ton of bricks, when I am, for instance, standing in some line somewhere and hearing a song, in my head or on some loud speaker, from my college days (“Well, I tried to make it Sunday, but I got so damned depressed that I set my sights on Monday….”), and being transported back to my twenties, only to discover that the clerk who is selling me groceries or stamps or whatever, does not see me as a twenty-year-old or even a thirty-year-old but instead as the 59-year-old I actually am—or, even worse, as a 70- or 80-year-old, since my hair is white!

So, here are the things that I cannot fathom at this age:

1)  That I am this age.


2)  That there is a whole bunch of information out there in the world that my brain no longer needs to listen for or keep track of, such as when the “Kids Eat Free” night is at local restaurants or what the best summer programs/camps are, or how to sign up for soccer or which library has the best story hour or even what the deadline is for registering for the PSAT! (I still need to track the SAT deadline, I’m happy to say!)

3)  That my oldest daughter is married and could actually, at some point, have a child—and she wouldn’t even be a “teenage” mom!

4)  That my youngest daughter can drive a car by herself—even after dark—and, if a cop stopped her, she could actually produce a real license to show that she’s legal.

5)  That my kids—all 4 of them—are old enough now that they are completely capable of making their own life-changing decisions without any input from me or their father.  (It is sweet of them that they still humor us by making us feel our opinion matters.)

6)  That my children think of the VietNam War in the same way I thought of World War II, as something very distant from their lives, just a part of history.

A Manual Typewriter from the Past

7)  That there was a time when I typed long papers for school on a manual typewriter, with carbon copies—and used white-out, horror of horrors, to correct mistakes in duplicate or triplicate!  Even weirder:  that there was a time when I could only call my parents from college on the hall phone in my dorm, reversing the charges, and there was a time (graduate school) when I used punch cards to enter data into a main frame computer and thought that was pretty cool technology!

8)  That Paul McCartney is an old man—and looks it—and that 2 of the Beatles and 2 of the Bee Gees are dead.

9)  That I am capable of turning 60, since that is something that my mother and her friends might do but certainly not moi.

10)  That my mother and father and almost all of their friends are dead.

11)  That time really doesn’t ever stand still—and it moves so fast sometimes that you cannot catch your breath.

12)  That climate change is not only a reality but is happening right in front of our eyes, and that there is a chance that we don’t have enough imagination to take the steps we need to take right now, right here, to at least slow it down, so that our children and their children don’t blame us for being so completely oblivious that we screwed everything up for them.

13)  That people who lived in, say, the 1800’s or the 1900’s  or, even more amazingly, the 1600’s, all felt they were living in the most up-to-date, modern times—and they were!

14)  That I sound really old in this blog post but still feel only about 30 years old—at the most–inside!  Sorry!  I’ll stop before I get maudlin.

But isn’t the passage of time, when it hits you in the solar plexus of your own life, absolutely the weirdest, most mind-blowing thing you’ve ever experienced?  Or is it just me?


6 thoughts on “The Passage of Time: Things I Cannot Fathom

  1. Jane,
    I was sitting watching TV last night and noticed I had my feet up on the seat of the chair with one leg dangling over the arm in a yoga-type position. It was so comfortable and I thought…I have never ever seen my mother sit in such an unlady-like position. I’m still doing it at 61! I’m grateful my body still bends in teenage ways and that I allow myself to be relaxed. Never mind 30….I’m still 15 inside. If I thought I could get up again without hurting myself, I’d put my feet on the back of the chair and watch TV upside down! Age really is only a number (except when it comes to getting up from a height lower than my knees).

    Great blog.

  2. Just thinking about you dancing around your kitchen makes me smile, Jane! Music is also my connection to all that happened when I was “growing up”. I recently heard George Michael singing “I Will Be Your Father Figure”, and got all sentimental…I guess from the memories stored in my body fat?

  3. Thanks, folks, for all these great comments! I have to say: I found myself dancing around the kitchen this morning, so to hell with how old I look! Jane

  4. Jane,
    We are with you all the way–I could relate to each point you made.
    I also like what Mary Rose said about the young, hopeful girl still alive in her and still dances to great music.
    Lets all keep on dancin’!

  5. I can certainly relate! At 62, I sometimes don’t recognize the wrinkled, white-haired woman in the mirror. Songs will transport me back in time in a heartbeat. I don’t have children but how is it that my niece is 31 years old and my nephews are in their mid-20s? I remember life before computers and cell phones and ATM machines… But frankly, I wouldn’t want to be a teenager again and I, too, find inspiration in those who are even older than I and who are active and vibrant. Gives me hope as well. Thanks!

  6. Jane,

    It is definitely not just you. I am sometimes staggered by the age that I am, the way that I look, and the aches that I feel. Yet in spite of all of that, the young hopeful girl that I once was, still lives in me, still dances to great music (all by myself), and still can sometimes feel wonder and anticipation. I guess as long as we can keep going and growing, we can preserve a small bit of youthful enthusiasm. I saw a photo of Yoko Ono, who is turning 80 this month. She is still striking, vital and very involved in the world. It gave me hope.

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