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Helen Mead: I need a few new sights and sounds
3:20pm Monday 3rd February 2014 in Helen Mead
‘IT seems like only yesterday that we were in Edinburgh.” It was at this time last year that we spent a weekend in the Scottish capital, and my husband was commenting on the past 12 months having flown by.
I agreed. I’m constantly struck by the rapid passage of time. In December, when I was rummaging around in cupboards for the Christmas decorations, it seemed like only days had passed since I’d done it the previous year.
Time seems to move so much faster as you grow older. I was discussing this with a sixty-something colleague, who cheered me up no end by morosely theorising that the fewer years we have left on this planet, the more we become aware of time, and the more quickly it passes.
He may be right. When I was in my teens and twenties I didn’t think ahead from one month to the next. I packed so much into my days, and was enjoying myself too much to be bothered by such things. The future looked rosy, and stretched before me.
Now the opposite is true. Apart from the odd holiday, my life is one of dull routine, doing the same things year after year.
That’s why I’m puzzled by the phrase ‘time flies if you’re having fun’. I’m not having fun, yet the months are whizzing by.
If I were to pinpoint an episode when time began to fly I would say when my children left primary school and started to retreat into their own worlds.
I haven’t been involved as much with their lives since. I haven’t taken them to school, helped at school functions or gone on school trips.
Those events provided a little variety in my life and broke up the passage of time. Now I just seem to work, shop (groceries, as opposed to clothing and treats), cook and clean.
This appears to have some credence. The 19th century psychologist William James claimed that the lack of new experiences in adulthood causes days and weeks to blend into an automatic routine and the years ‘grow hollow and collapse’. How uplifting.
It is obvious that I lack excitement and stimulation. What I need is a few new sights and sounds, a different routine.
But at my age, with family commitments, you can’t simply break off and backpack across South-East Asia.
The biological clock winding down has been linked to time passing more quickly – mine has stopped completely, so that’s another component speeding up the years. It’s all very depressing.
What I do know is that it has taken me a long time to write this column, so life isn’t passing me by completely.
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