Rosauer's grocery, January 2008.
For a good while now I've been thinking about time, about
my experience of time.
Looking back before my illness, when I was studying out at
Eastern Washington University, it all seems almost like
another lifetime now. But it has only been five years really
since all that. And looking back to the death of my good dog
Baron in 2008 seems so long ago too; that being only about
two and a half years ago.
But it wasn't always that way. When I was younger, say in
my 20s, a year seemed to take a pretty long while to progress.
For me the years of the 80s seemed to transpire across a broad
continuum. A new year would roll in; I would change to a new
calendar; and so much would seem to happen and so many miles
traveled before the pages of a new calendar needed to be opened.
Today, the months seem to pass so quickly. And there seems
barely the bat of an eye before I've gone through another day.
I watch a certain program on television on Monday; and then it
seems I am sitting there watching it again. "Wasn't I just sitting
here doing this?" I sometimes ask myself. And yes, I was; but
it was a week ago.
Why does our concept of time change across the years? Why
is it that the months pass by in such a blur for me these
days? Is it that I am getting older? And if that is the cause,
why should that be?
Ah you know when we are young everything seems so new. New
things that we have never done before; new faces and person-
alities; new streets; new jobs and new plans to make. Perhaps
it is the freshness of youth that makes time pass so slowly. But
when we get older, it becomes much more "been there, done
that." We have all of this experience tucked away inside our
I do know that our brain chemistry changes as we get older.
I know this not from neurology, but from history. Creative
artists traditionally go through phases: the works of youth,
the works of maturity, and those of old age. While there are
some odd things about that view (Mozart for example went
through three creative phases even though dying at just 35),
I think that for most it holds. And I don't think those divisions
are merely that which we use for convenience. The works of
Beethoven's second phase are markedly different than those
of his first, and the third period works are different than his
second. A change occurs with time. In my view, it is a change
of consciousness. Part of this could perhaps be attributed to
experience gained across the years. But I think that there are
also differences that occur in the brain.
When we are young, our consciousness tends more toward
analysis, to breaking the world into parts. But as we age,
that analytical function is gradually eclipsed by a synthetic
function, with bringing things together. The late works of
Beethoven use a thematic compression that was just not there
— or perhaps even imagined — in his youth. I think we are
all this way to one degree or another.
Perhaps that might explain the progressive rush of time
across the years and how we perceive it. When we are young,
and busy pulling the world apart at the seams, that also
influences our perception of time. But when we are older
things becomes more synthetic — time melds, becomes
more compact, more compressed.
Of course there is the old phrase "how time flies when you
are having fun." But in that case I should be having one
hell of a lot more fun these days. Unfortunately, not true.
Not that my life is bad by any great means.
All our time is but the wink of a star's eye.
Rosauer's grocery, December 2010.