We still delude ourselves we can control it. But, here’s the truth: we can’t. Children screw their eyes shut and wish it was Christmas three months early. Their parents watch the days flying past and wildly hope it will be cancelled this year. Holidays end too soon. Work days crawl towards home-time. Appointments written up on the calendar seem to jump pages. Time spent on the dentist’s chair feels like it’s frozen as much as your mouth is. School trousers become shorts too quickly, but they’ll never grow into that blazer. Time is relentless, but can somehow stand still when you wish it wouldn’t.
I have a terrible habit of dreading bad things or anticipating good, as if I could stop one, or make the other happen quicker. The dreading eats away at me, and steals my sleep. The anticipating is a positive feeling, but doesn’t change anything.
Looking back, I see that my dreading, wishing, anticipating younger self was blind to what was happening in the present moment. I have dreaded and wished myself through all the events of life, even when I was in the middle of them. When asked now about my children’s early years I find that I’ve forgotten most of it. Why? Mainly because I was wishing they could cut their first tooth, walk, feed themselves, read, swim, kick a football, spell, put their own hair up (that’s my daughter obviously) and walk home from school without me. Long before any of those things had happened. If I met that former self, I’d grab her by the arms and make her notice what was going on right in front of her. I’d tell her that she’s going to forget if she doesn’t pay attention. I’d tell her that all those things she’s dreading or looking forward to will begin and finish in the twinkle of an eye. That she needs to hold the present carefully.
She has to treasure it before it disappears and becomes the past.
Counting down the days, for better or for worse, rubbishes the time in between. So, hold the people you love by the shoulders for a minute every day and just look at them. Forget about wishing and dreading;
Savour and cherish instead.