Remember how, during our school years, we couldn’t wait for summer? How we’d keep wishing time would move faster so we could get out of school and be able to sleep in late, play outside (the pre-technology days) and go on family vacations and all of the fun things we couldn’t do during the school year?
Remember how, during our senior high school years, we couldn’t wait for schooling just to be over? We wanted to turn “eighteen” – the magic age when we legally became adults and had rights?
Remember how (if we went to college) we couldn’t wait for weekends home and semester breaks?
Remember how, when we finally found “the one”, we couldn’t wait to get married and start sharing our new and proud adult life with another?
Back in the early days of life – as a child and as a young adult – we all tended to wish for time to move faster. We all wanted to rush on towards the next best thing that we’d laid out for our lives in our brain. Most of us imagined the spouse, the house with the white-picket fence, children, family pets, consistent paychecks that allowed us to pay our bills and buy more stuff. We didn’t think – to be honest, didn’t know – about the drudgery of daily life once we’d settled into being adult. For some, the picture turned out just like we’d imagined and for some, it did not – but either way, we stopped looking forward to the next best thing and let ourselves become slaves to the routine of the “thing” where we were. We became – most of us, anyhow – mature, responsible adults, doing what needed to be done in order to make our way successfully through whatever was put before us. What was put before us wasn’t some wish of something we’d looked forward to, but something that needed to be done in order to sustain ourselves exactly where we were.
And at some point, in our 40s or 50s, we started wishing time would pass again – this time to when we could retire from work and be allowed to have time to enjoy life as we wished again. Whether it was to travel, or garden, or just be lazy, we realized that adulthood wasn’t exactly the bright shining orb we’d wished ourselves into all of those years ago. We were at one time excited to earn money and thought it was the answer to fulfilling every dream and desire we had.
We were wrong.
We were wrong about a lot of things. But most of all, we were wrong seeing our future through rose-colored glasses when we were young. We didn’t know about the stress of mortgages or car loans, the costs of medical, home and vehicle insurances. We didn’t know how much of the money we worked for would be taken by the government instead of being in our paychecks.
And we didn’t know that we might possibly reach a time in our lives where the days would seem to drag on forever but the years would pass by far too quickly. We didn’t know that there was a possibility that, once we’d reached the ‘golden age’ of retirement, we might well not be physically capable of all of those things we thought we could do once our time was ours again. We become intent of making memories with our loved ones, because for all of us, our biological clocks begin ticking. Chronologically, we’ve somehow scraped and clawed our ways to the top of the hill and have started the downhill slide. All of those tangible things we craved in order to show ourselves and others our stature no longer take precedence if our physical stature prohibits us from enjoying them. The vacation home, the boat and jet skis, the planned trips around the country in our motorhome, the planned trips around the world to visit other cultures – all of them become the “work” in our lives that we craved while we were “working”.
And we stop – we stop wishing our lives away. We’re melancholy about turning the calendar over to the next month, wondering where that month went… wondering if we’d done anything constructive or created any lasting memories, or if we just let the days slip by to be filled with doctor’s appointments and errands like grocery shopping. If we have a bucket list, we occasionally look at it and see more things we’ve never done that we’re most likely never going to do.
When we get to this new age of enlightenment, we may finally understand why our elders told us not to “wish your life away”. We may also wonder why parents and grandparents weren’t more forthcoming and honest about what we could expect from life. To protect us, as children, their struggles were kept from our eyes and ears – and we remained clueless.
I heard someone lament recently about an approaching 32nd birthday and I had to bite my tongue. I’m tired of telling people in their 30s who complain about “being old” that they have no idea what “old” feels like. I wonder if it’s my duty to inform them – forewarn them – about what’s to come. I feel bad for them for feeling so “old” at that age (already).
But, we all got what we asked for. We spent all of those years wishing for time to fly by, looking forward to the next chapter in our life story. But here’s what I know about the story of life. We should read it from end to beginning. I know if I’d have seen this part of my life before I’d lived it, I’d sure have lived it differently!
(P.S. I wrote this article because I’ve found myself wishing that time would fly again. Not for years, but for months. I’m ready to see the end of the political BS by a November election here in the US. I’m ready for the pandemic to have some solid move to overcoming.)