First Days Never Get Easier

A collage of

A collage of past “first days” (photos by Julia Ozab)

Today, Julia and I sent Anna off on the school bus for her first day of fourth grade. Each year I think it will get easier, and each year I’m wrong. It never gets easier. If anything, it gets harder as we watch her grow up before our eyes. Year after year, photo after photo. It all happens too fast.

Why is that? Why do the days and the years rocket past for us? Why is she in such a hurry to grow up while we want it all to slow down so we can hold on to each moment just a little bit longer before it goes?

Is it because she grows more noticeably? Or because we don’t want to face how we’re getting older, but can’t deny that she’s growing up? Or is it because a year for us who’ve lived for many seems so much shorter than for those who’ve lived before?

Michael Stevens at VSauce (one of my favorite YouTube channels) has an interesting take on the last question. Perhaps it has to do with how we naturally perceive time. (Warning: Math ahead!)

(Go back to 2:07 for some background on additive vs. logarithmic counting, or to 0:00 to see people with too much time on their hands).

So if this is the case, and we who have passed the “middle age” of 9(!) can only look forward to our subsequent years racing past us faster and faster until their inevitable end, is there anyway at all for us to slow the rushing train down just a bit?

Yes.

So if you want to slow time down a bit, go out and do something new. It’s the novel experiences that stick with us and make for richer memories and fuller lives.

I can think of someone that makes my life a whole lot fuller than it would be. Someone who helps me see the world through fresh eyes and re-experience familiar things with a new sense of wonder.

Someone who keeps me young.

Anna's first day of fourth grade

2015

And as always, thanks for reading!

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I Turned 46 Last Friday

Over the Hill candle

I’m still getting used to saying that: “46.” Just a week ago I was 45—I’d finally gotten used to that after almost a year, and now 46.

Lately, birthdays have been kind of weird for me. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m still a “young parent”—Anna is less than two months from her sixth birthday—or if it’s just because I don’t look my age—despite the scattered grey in my beard. Maybe it’s because I was in grad school when other people my age were working and raising children and now I’m in that 20s and 30s stage when many of my contemporaries have sent the kids off to college. Maybe—in the case of this year anyway—it’s because I’ve lost so much weight and gotten so much healthier that I feel better than I did a year ago.

Whatever it is, I don’t feel 46—or at least I don’t feel like what 46 is supposed to feel like. I don’t feel closer to 50 that to 40, or closer to 60 than to 30, or closer to retirement age than drinking age. But I am.

46.

It’s not even a cool number, like 42—the answer to the question of life, the universe, and everything. I was really hoping to get some insight out of that year. Didn’t happen.

The only thing the least bit interesting about my age is that it always corresponds to the number of the current Super Bowl. Does that mean I can write my age in Roman numerals?

XLVI

Nah, that makes me feel ancient.

But my birthday was good. Got to sleep in a little bit while Julia put in a few hours at the office and Anna spent the morning at Grandma’s. Then we all went over to the local pizza buffet for lunch and Anna played in their indoor play area for a couple of hours. After that, we returned home and shared chocolate cupcakes that Julia and Anna had baked Thanksgiving afternoon.

It was a good day. I got to spend it with my family, and that’s what matters most. It almost makes up for turning 46.

Almost.