How Do You Measure Time? by Ruby Barnes
|How does your garden grow?|
Dandelions are a curse for gardeners and right here, right now in Ireland, those yellow flowers are popping up all over my lawn. They elbow their way to the surface and push away the grass. Even if you dig them out they leave a muddy patch for the grass to re-colonise and Alfie the dog is likely to dig a fresh hole there as he loves the smell of dandelion roots. Yet, when Alfie and I take a stroll over the field across from our house, those same dandelions are delightful to look at, showing their sunny faces as a reminder that the long wet winter has passed. But can it already be a whole year since the last time they rose up, flowered and shook their seeds into the wind?
Perennial pests are a good reminder of our planet completing another solar orbit. I count car and house insurance policies in this category. The annual slap around the head of increasing car insurance premiums, which should surely be falling as I get older, can be mitigated by spreading them out monthly. Other anniversaries are less avoidable. Birthdays and feast days are there to let us know that we’ve put another ring on our trunk. As we age, we perversely seem to be sprinting around the sun compared to the way we drifted aimlessly through our early years as children. When the admin office at work calls to let me know my Easter egg from the social club is awaiting collection, I feel a twinge of sadness. One small chocolate egg closer to recycling. Two fun-sized Crunchie bars nearer to composting. Then I eat the chocolate and feel okay again.
|We thought we'd never get there!|
In our youth we wished our lives away. Days were counted down to mid-term break like a prisoner marking the wall of a cell. Alice Cooper delighted us with School’s Out for Summer, because to us it meant that school really was out for ever. The next school year was so far away, a whole summer distant. By that time life would be different, we might grow inches in height. People became distorted versions of their younger selves, things were changing so fast. We couldn’t wait ‘til the holidays, we couldn’t wait until some event or other. Sometimes we couldn’t wait until something had passed as the apprehension of an upcoming test or dentist appointment was too much to bear. Treasured toys, a favourite bicycle, those really cool jeans, all thrown away as we left them behind in our rush to grow up.
Today I pop a tablet out of the blister pack of thirty allergy pills and count another day. It shocks me when the blister pack is empty and another month has passed. I go to the box and pull out another packet, thinking it might be time to place my annual order. I could try and stretch them out, to go without for a few days – the worst that would happen is a sinus infection. But planet Earth would continue to spin at a thousand miles an hour, orbiting the Sun at 70,000 miles per hour. The meter of Life’s taxi would continue to run.
Somewhere between today and youth there must have been a point of equilibrium, a point where the passage of time felt bearable. A day in passing felt like a day’s worth of Life. But, like the highest point of a hill, it’s often difficult to tell when you’re on the spot unless you have the benefit of a view from a distance. I accept that I can’t slow the passage of time. The impression that time is speeding up is purely an illusion, perhaps caused by increasing familiarity of events. So I try to pack my life with new and different things, to dilute the familiarity. Each passage of a year makes me groan, but recollection of the things done and said in that same 365 days makes me smile.
How is time passing for you? Do you feel each grain of sand or is it all a blur?