The Mystifying Sensation of Passing Time

Ordinary Reminders of Earth’s Orbit

Like astrophysics and trigonometry, time is a concept I cannot begin to understand. This is disconcerting, considering my entire being is an amalgamation of time and experiences.

Passing time is an inevitability. There are no apps or medicines to stop it in its tracks. Nobody is exempt from time’s grip, so the only thing to do is learn how to deal with it.

The way I deal with it is to be mindful of it. I try to notice when an hour spent with my daughter goes by, a day ends, or a week passes. The more I pay attention, the more I am able to grasp the inevitability of the ticking clock.

It’s the ordinary reminders of passing time that really get to me. They’re the simple things. The final season of Game of Thrones is coming out next month. I remember when they announced it would be out in April 2019 and everyone was mad because it was an eternity away. Now it’s nearly here.

It’s my husband’s biennial work event coming and going, the buds on my willow tree emerging, and pre-ordered books arriving on my porch.

I have recently felt barraged with reminders of time going by. This likely has to do with my daughter growing before my eyes and my panic at the speed of my own biological life cycle.

By giving space to these reminders, I accept them and, therefore, come to terms with passing time being an absolute — one which I have no control over.

Here are some of my ordinary observances of time passed:

The beeping of my coffee pot

Having a young child, the only chance I have at a productive morning is if my coffee pot auto-brews at 6:00 AM. Two hours after the coffee brews, the pot beeps six times to let me know it is shutting off. Without fail, every morning I am shocked when I hear the reminder that two hours have come and gone. I’ve never not been shocked, even though I know it’s coming.

A dead plant

Nobody likes to see a plant die. But the reason a dead plant bothers me the most is because it reminds me of when I brought the plant home. A few months ago I had to come to terms with one of my plants dying. It was given to me as a tiny bud by a friend. He gave it to me in a water-filled mason jar, and once it grew roots I was able to plant it. Years later I had the plant sitting somewhere I didn’t often visit, and I neglected it. Its death reminded me of how long it had been since I inherited it, and simultaneously how recent it felt.

National Women’s Day

I remember the photo clearly. My daughter was wearing a spaghetti strap romper with a tiny jean vest. She was laying in her crib and the big white bow in her hair reflected the light from the window. It was International Women’s Day and I posted on Instagram a note to little girls everywhere: you can move mountains. The holiday came around again this year and completely blindsided me. I didn’t have anything new or creative to say because I had just written an International Women’s Day Instagram post. But really, that was last year. 365 days prior.

A domain renewal

When I received note last week that it was time to renew my domain name, I had to reread the email. I just renewed it. It felt like only a couple of months ago that I had to dig up my GoDaddy login credentials, cross-check with Squarespace, update my payment information and renew. I was then reminded of how many years I’d had the domain, and I couldn’t begin to understand how so much time had already passed.

Art in Bloom

Every year I intend to view the beautiful displays of flowers at the Minneapolis Institute of Art for its annual event, Art in Bloom. I’ve been intending to view it since my mother had a big birthday, six years ago. Every year Art in Bloom comes and goes and I don’t attend it. Each spring when I see ads for it, I become disappointed in myself for not having gone the year prior and agitated that this feeling is back after so short a time. (I’m going this year).

With passing time comes the self-doubt: what have I been doing all these years? Am I where I’d hoped to be? Am I capitalizing on each of my days? And then the coffee pot beeps and I’m gently brought back to the present moment.

Time speeds up when you need more of it and it slows down when you can’t bear it — and through it all, little reminders show up to indicate that the Earth is orbiting the sun at the same pace it always has. The best shot we have at coming to terms with the rapid pace of time is to be mindful of it.

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