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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Begin Again

August 1

Every day is a new beginning.

So is every month.

Clocks cycle, calendars turn, and we mark out time in neat little packages. But time doesn’t come in packages. It’s not a calendar or a clock. It’s a river, constantly flowing forward and carrying us along moment by moment.

The past is set.

The future is unknown.

But the present—the now—is where we begin again.

We fall, and we get back up again.

We fall again, and we get back up again.

And the only thing that sets the saints apart is this …

They get up one more time than they fall.

Take His hand.

Get up.

Begin again.

Five Minute Friday

 

Mostly Timeless

Mt. Angel Bell Tower

Photo: Mt. Angel Abbey

I’m back from my weekend retreat at Mount Angel Abbey. It was a wonderful, restful time for me. I prayed a lot and I got a lot of work done. Ora et labora (prayer and work): the Benedictine motto.

This was my fourth trip to the abbey, and for this visit I tried a little experiment: I dispensed with clocks. I left my phone in the room—I don’t wear a watch so my phone is my watch—I took the clock off the toolbar on my laptop, and I attempted to follow the rhythm of the monastery.

My one exception: I set the alarm clock so I would be up early enough to pray with the monks. But I hid the clock behind my computer and did my best to ignore it the rest of the day.

So how did I manage? Quite well. The bells told me when to go to the Abbey Church to pray, and meals were conveniently scheduled after Lauds, Noon Prayer, and Vespers. The rest of the time was my own—to write, to read, to browse the Abbey Bookstore, and to walk the Abbey grounds. And like any good Benedictine, I stopped whatever I was doing when the bells rang and hurried to the church for the next celebration of communal prayer.

I was amazed at how much my day opened up when not dictated by a clicking second hand (or a set of blazing red digits). I fell into a rhythm almost immediately and everything seemed perfectly balanced. I gained a new appreciation for the life of the monks. It felt more natural, more human, than the clock driven life I (and almost all of us) usually lead.

It made me wonder what we’ve lost in our submission to clicking hands and blinking lights, and if we might find a way to get some of it back.

I’m not sure of the answer, but I do know one thing. After I came home yesterday, I spent part of the afternoon playing with my daughter. And I didn’t look at the clock once.