In my youth it seemed that the lifetime stretching out ahead was enormous in scope. No need to hurry. There was plenty of time. If for some reason I chose not to become a Broadway actress, I could always become a children’s librarian. Or apprentice to Joseph Campbell. Or write for the New York Times. And there would be plenty of time to explore the mysteries of deepest Africa and visit the relatives in Norway. And someday far in the future, even become someone’s grandmother and pass on The Secret Garden and Tolkien and Oz.
And life inched on slowly, with many dreams unfulfilled, along with a multitude of unexpected pleasures. And always it seemed that there was time, until just recently. I’m not certain exactly when it changed or just how it happened, but time speeded up on me at some point and is now racing ahead at a break-neck pace.
I’m told that I’m not alone. That it’s a common condition, part and parcel of this process deemed getting old. Older. You go along, thinking you have all the time in the world and one day you realize that the vast expanse of the universe, the length and breadth of the cosmos (thank you Carl Sagan) is not so infinite after all. And like a runaway train, is speeding way too fast into some unnamed oblivion before you had half a chance to become published, or get to know cousin Petra in Tromso.
I was a great fan and adulator of Doris Lessing in my pre-midlife, and I was recently struck by these sentiments – “The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in 70 or 80 years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.”
So along with this frenetic cosmic flipping of the calendar, the blur of days too fast, the consternation of braking without control – there is that. And it’s true. There is a point when you look outward from who you have always been and feel no different than you did at 20, or 30. Really.
But if age is a high price to pay for maturity, then hopefully it has been worth the bargain. T.M. reminded me just today that Ram Dass was right all along when he said – “Be here now.”
And so I am.
And too, I am here and there.