[As the year comes to an end, a reflection on the passing of time…Especially since I’ve noticed time slipping away from me and feeling like I accomplish less each day than I used to.]
An argument broke out between two members of our family over time—threatening a war that would rival the epic war of the Time Lords from the Dr Who series.
‘You better allow at least two hours to get from Zurich Airport to Wattwil,’ a member of our family who came from Switzerland warns.
‘What? According to Google Maps, it should only take an hour,’ another family member shows their relative the map on their computer screen. ‘See? It’s only sixty kilometres—and we’ve got the freeway.’
And so, a joke endures in our family that time speeds up in Switzerland, perhaps owing to the mini-black hole created by the Large Hadron Collider.
Fast forward to Zurich Airport August 2014…and we witness not time, but our relatives, fresh off the plane, stand still for an hour and a half, debating where to change Australian dollars into Swiss Francs. Is this what our relative meant when they said all goes slower in Switzerland? For them, perhaps, not us. Up until then, the only impediment to our timekeeping was a wayward Tom Tom who prefers scenic routes to the more expedient ones, and road works—the bane of summertime in Europe.
So, maybe it wasn’t the mini–Black Hole after all, but I have observed time does speed up or slow down depending on the place and activity. You may have heard the old adage: “Time flies when you’re having fun”. When I’m painting, I’m in the zone, and hours melt away, and a whole afternoon disappears into night. My son will come to me and ask, ‘When’s tea?’
‘Soon,’ I say. ‘Just need to do a few more dabs.’
Another hour slips by and my husband comes and says, ‘It’s nine o’clock, when are we eating?’
Fine then. I put down my brushes and admire my work…for another half an hour.
Yet there are places where time slows and stretches almost into eternity. My mother and I are convinced that Magill, a suburb east of Adelaide city, is one of those places. We love our “Magill time”—a leisurely lunch, then a slow snoop at the Salvos, then the bookshop, and still time to do the grocery shopping before we pick up my son from his guitar-making workshop.
However, for my son, “Magill time” doesn’t exist. For him, the time spent on his craft vanishes into the sawdust—much like when I paint, I guess.
My son theorises that time is relative to age. When a person is young, say, one year old, they haven’t experienced much time so the time they have lived seems a long and drawn out. But for an eighty-year-old, one year is one of eighty and thus seems short in comparison.
I guess there’s something to be said that time is related to energy. Young people possess a greater amount of energy; they pack so much more into a day, and still don’t tire. Have you noticed, as you get older, young people speak faster? Or if you are younger, you wonder why older people speak so slow. What’s going on there? Young people complain about being bored and needing to fill in each minute of the day, so as not to waste time. Screen time fills in the gaps when “nothing” is happening.
In contrast, I believe there is a phenomenon called “older people’s time”. I observed this with my aging relatives. They complain time speeds up, but from my point of view they are just slowing down. They compensate for their slow movement in time, by preparing in advance for events, and arriving early so as not to miss out. It’s not unusual for the older generation to arrive at a venue an hour early so as to be on time.
And in contrast to their youth, older people prefer to sit for hours pondering, their memories perusing their past. For them, days blend together, years vanish into a succession of Christmases. ‘Oh, dear, how time has flown,’ they say. Some think they’ve lived so long, they experienced the pre-Industrial Revolution. Not sure what’s going on there.
I guess at the end of the day, as in Psalm 31:15a, David says, “My(our) times are in your (God’s) hands”. We are encouraged to use our time on Earth wisely, loving and building each other up in goodness and thanking God for the time He has given us.
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016; updated 2020; 2022
*Feature Photo: Seacliff Sunset © L.M. Kling 2013
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Trekking with the T-Team: Central Australian Safari. (Australia)
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