We humans are an interesting lot. Today I'm thinking about our relationship with time. How we think about time.
The opening quote by Douglas was taken from an interview a couple of years ago when he was talking about his sense of time at then age 74.
We often hear someone say that there isn't enough hours in the day to get everything done or ask with frustration 'where does the time go?'.
Reality is that we spend much of our life giving little account of the days we're given or how they are being spent. We're just burning up time like it is an infinite resource, while acknowledging that it is our most valuable resource.
We account for our money more diligently than time. Many account for their calories more than time.
After all, life is easily filled with activity. This seems especially true in American lifestyles where being busy is supposedly a sign of a meaningful or productive life. That's not the way of many cultures which tend to take a more reflective view of life and the meter of life - time.
But as we start pressing toward midlife, we become more cognizant of time as to how much has been spent and noticing that there is likely less time ahead of us than has passed. While it's not some fixed age when we all come to this awareness, it does seem to come to most.
In men, we speak of a midlife crisis. Perhaps that's an example of this time awareness manifesting itself for all to see - usually in some extreme and abnormal behavior expressed by the afflicted.
I recall that for me that age was 50. It seemed others crossed their line at 40 or in their 40s. I had been working overseas for 10 years by that time and had a strong sense that I needed to return to the States for what I perceived was a closing chapter to my career. It was further fueled by a collapsing 30-year marriage.
But it was a strong sense that if my life today is not what I wanted it to be tomorrow, then I needed to change it - and do so promptly. And I did - quit job, got another, moved and divorced within a year.
Fast Forward, Again
That was over 15 years ago. At the time I figured I had some 30+ years left. Lots of time to make new things happen.
So, the other day I was looking at my TIAA retirement account and it provided some information that indicated that I could draw out of the account over $3,000+ a month for the remainder of my days.
Well, that was intriguing, so I delved into what they were assuming my days were.
That's it?! I can literally SEE 16 years in my mind.
Time is finite to me now. It is becoming less an abstract idea, but an in-my-face phenomenon that calls me to pay attention.
Even now, I'm struck by how little 16 years is. To type it makes it more concrete, and unsettling.
Time is finite. How finite for each of us is unknown, but it surely is.