Too fast. That’s what I think about time. It travels much too fast.
Remember how the days once crept by, every minute larger than life and filled with opportunities~for play, for laughter, for being with friends, for having fun. Did you ever once give a thought to time running out, to not having enough of it?
When was the moment you first noticed the swift passage of time? For me, it as my 16th birthday -and I need a calculator to determine exactly how long ago that was. There’s a Polaroid picture of me in an old photo album somewhere, leaning in to blow out the candles on my cake, dressed in the plaid skirt of my school uniform, my long hair in two brown braids draped over my shoulders. Truthfully, I look more like 6 than 16 in that picture- yet I recall looking in the mirror that day and thinking, “Someday you’ll be old.” Old like my mother – who was all of 45 at the time. Old like my grandmother, who was 63.
Looking back on all the years since then, who could have believed they would travel by so swiftly, a blur of college, and marriage, and motherhood. Like fast motion photography, it sped past me-my life-leaving me standing here in the chill wind of ghostly memories. I brace myself each day, digging my heels into the earth to keep myself grounded firmly in this moment, whatever it might be.
Oh, I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m healthy, and strong, I’ve never faced mortal illness or danger, my family is rife with long lived women, and, thanks to advances in modern science, I could conceivably count more years than any of them.
Yet those years fly by so swiftly, and there is still so much left to do.
There’s a poem by A.E. Houseman, set to music by Ralph Vaughn Williams…Lovliest of Trees, it’s called. It’s a beautiful, lyric song, which many of the high school girls choose to sing as a festival piece. It goes like this…
Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride,
Wearing white for Eastertide.
Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
If you do the math, the narrator of this poem is 20 years old, lamenting the thought of “only fifty more” springs. It makes me smile to hear teenage girls sing this song, trying to grasp this idea of a finite amount of time in which to savor the cherry blossoms.
Well, I’ve had fifty springs, and more besides. And they seem to roll around more quickly every year, those cherry blossom months. Soon, another long Michigan winter will be past, the robins will return, and the sun will warm my skin. I’m grateful for that, although it reminds me again of this swift network of time I’m traveling through.
So excuse me while I go wander the woodlands…there are cherry trees to savor.
written for the writer’s island