Last weekend Dean and I went out for a quick hike and when we reached the viewpoint at the top, nearly the first thing I said was something like, “ooooh, I like this fireweed. Look at how tall the points are above the flowers, it doesn’t make me anxious at all…” He gave me the “don’t worry, you’ll like padded walls” look and said something measured like, “does other fireweed make you anxious?” And I realized at that moment that yes, I had been feeling anxious about the state of the fireweed in my daily life. You see, fireweed blossoms from the bottom to the top over the course of the summer. When the blossoms reach the tip, summer’s end is imminent. And the flowers haven’t reached the tip, but they’re moving up.
I’ve found myself trying to wrap my brain around the passage of time rather a lot recently. I’m pretty certain it’s a futile exercise, but I can’t seem to help myself.
A couple months ago, I heard someone make reference in a television interview to the fact that 1980 is as distant from 2014 as 1946 was from 1980. My mind nearly exploded. Is this obvious and mundane to you? I’m still sputtering with what to say about that. I remember 1980, moments of it quite vividly. Is my childhood really as relevant to life today as… something in 1946 was to me? (I don’t even have a cultural reference for 1946… I guess that’s why we have Wikipedia now?) They tell us the pace of change is accelerating… does this mean that it’s even more removed? Am I completely delusional about how distant my childhood is?
Because that’s just a slightly more polite way of saying that I’m in denial about my age. And my birthday last month hit me rather harder than I expected. Somehow 37 feels a whole lot older than 36, like suddenly my thirties went from half-past to as good as gone in a blink. It’s not even that I don’t want to be that old, it just doesn’t seem possible. I caught myself casting about for points of reference and realized that my mom walked her oldest daughter down the aisle when she was 37. Once again… speechless.
So there’s a glimpse into my head as I head out for two weeks in the mountains. Honestly, I know of no better way to slow time to a crawl than to spend time outdoors and under human power. I’m sure I’ll spend plenty of hours pondering the nature of time, but luckily there will also be moments when I’m not aware of anything other than the warmth of sun on my skin, the shade of blue in the sky, and the sweet taste of cool clear water. I look forward to trying to tell you about them on the other side.