When I was a teenager I was always willing the days and weeks to go faster, forever looking forward in time as I impatiently counted off the days so wishfully marked on the back cover of my school General Note Book: striking out each passing one with fervent enthusiasm as each mark brought me closer to being at youth club on Thursdays, round a friends on Fridays, a party or disco on Saturdays with whichever boyfriend was in vogue at the time, and the sociable gang show rehearsals on those magical Sunday afternoons. The other days barely registered with me, being just school and homework filled obstacles to the all important ‘ real life’ I craved, as a junkie craves their next fix.
I kept this ‘habit’ up for ages, always looking forward to what had yet to arrive: ticking off my life as I have, in later years, ticked items off a shopping list. When I was young there was always tomorrow, in fact years and years of tomorrows strung themselves like golden lights ahead of me, disappearing into the distance and offering never ending fun experiences in a cloud cuckoo land where I would grow older but never grew old , and things would never really change. Why concern myself with the limits of yesterday or the restrictions of today when tomorrow was never ending?
Those halcyon days of course did not last and I find myself now, nearly fifty years further on, wanting to slow down time, to stop the days from passing so quickly, to wring the most out of every fragile, beautiful yet fleeting moment. To enjoy today before it so quickly becomes yesterday and is gone for ever except in my memories. At 16 I could barely contemplate getting old- growing up maybe, but growing old? – never. Yet I am growing old, and there is nothing I can do to stop it. I see it happening each day, with more crows feet and more grey hairs staring at me from the mirror, more stiff and aching joints despite my gym classes and glucosamine doing their best to keep them at bay. I don’t want to tick off days anymore, but it’s still happening, like some robotic monster that having started up I now can’t turn off. I want to hold back the years, to yell to old Cronos to slow down a bit so that I don’t have to slow down so fast.
Unfortunately he too is as old as time and obviously deaf.
There are positive things of course about getting older- heck, there has to be doesn’t there, otherwise we’d all put our heads in the gas oven on reaching thirty! I have a wonderful grown up family and delight in being a grandmother, but oh dear, even that makes me sound so old. Yet how can I be old when in my head at least I’m still young?
There is so much still I want to do, to experience, to feel, to say, to sing, to appreciate and I’ll make sure I get to do as much of it as I can, but now, as I climb the proverbial hill a bit more, I can see that the view is definitely finite and so I am having to live with that previously ignored reality and make the best of every moment before they run out. I want that to be a long time in the future, yet the prospect of ageing is not a comfortable one to contemplate and I find I’m on an emotional treadmill that is harder work getting to grips with than any found at the gym.
Now, I know that my thoughts create my reality, at least my thoughts create how I perceive my situation, yet I also know that I can’t think myself 16 again and that I will one day throw off this mortal coil. I really do believe that death is only a new beginning but I love life so much and the special people in it that ‘losing’ them, even for paradise is a sobering thought, especially if the run up to paradise means increasing wobbly bits and, worse, losing even the memories of yesterday, or the possibilities of tomorrow if dementia should strike. That really would mean only inhabiting just the now. Umm, food for thought there!