On my tenth birthday, my mother lit the candles on my cake and said, “Now you’re in double numbers. Now the years will go by fast.” It seemed such an odd thing to say. It had taken me so long to get to ten, how could time possibly begin to go faster? And yet it did.
It was quite a rude awakening in my late twenties when I realized that the phrase “ten years or so ago,” once a measure of time that covered over half my life, only reached back as far as high school graduation.
Time had moved on and unawares I had moved with it. I could no longer use ten years to give me a point of reference in my childhood. I had to opt for fifteen, and then twenty, and then twenty-five, until one day, I found that even going back thirty years didn’t return me to my grade school days.
That awareness was accompanied by the loss of that sense of limitless options that youth confers. I am never going to be a heart surgeon. I am never going to be an astronaut. I am never going to understand the theory of relativity, or write a symphony, or win a gold medal in figure skating at the Winter Olympics.
The restrictions fleeting time placed on my idle daydreams was depressing, until I reread a poem I first encountered, and only dimly understood, in high school.
“Ulysses” describes the hero of the Trojan War, returned home after long years of adventure. He rebels at the quiet sameness of life to which his age has relegated him. So, he urges his long-time friends to join him in pushing forward with whatever measure of courage and strength they still command, for as long as they are able.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Now, those who know me will all agree that heroic temperament is not the first phrase that leaps to mind when describing me. I shall not soon be setting sail with or without brave companions to confront a Cyclops or battle wits with the witch-goddess Circe. I won’t even be driving forth in a Winnebago for parts unknown.
However, while some avenues are no longer open, for those who have the will to strive and to seek there are always new adventures waiting. For instance, there’s my idea for STAB, Susan’s Twitter Advice Bureau, wherein, in 280 characters or less, I will give you instructions for how to live your life. It’s time I make my skill at clearly seeing what other people should do available to a wider audience than friends and family.
Also, there’s my great concept for a podcast: Susan and KK Talk Through A Movie, a weekly recording of my sister and me talking over the unfolding Netflix film with updates on friends, frustrations, friends who are frustrations, and queries as to whether or not the lead actor in the story is dead now. And then there’s … well, I shouldn’t say more, or someone might beat me to the punch on that idea.
Time does move quickly after you hit double numbers. But as the less poetic, but definitely more direct Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over, ’til it’s over.”