The Thing About Time

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The Thing About Time

Is it just me or do we have this weird thing about time? How we register it in our bodies.

My father passed away six weeks ago today but it seems more like four months. Why is that? Why can’t the passage of time feel more or less like the amount of time that has passed? Why can’t a week feel like… a week?

We measure the passage of time with annual celebrations and customary traditions and events. It might be Christmas or birthdays or some other religious or secular holiday. When Passover comes around each year I’m apt to say, “Was it really only a year ago we were all together? It seems like only a couple of months…”

On the other hand, just yesterday it hit me that exactly one year ago I was still enrolled in the secretarial studies program at the local adult education centre in Cowansville. The realization stopped me cold in my tracks. Could it really be so? Is it a good thing or a bad thing that a life lived less than a year ago feels like it occurred three years ago? Maybe it is neither good nor bad but just the way events happen to register in our bodies and memories. Much has happened since I graduated last April: I spent four anxious months looking for work; I found a job and an apartment in Montreal (August); we put our house on the market and bought another one (November & March respectively); I found myself in the emergency ward of the Cowansville hospital on New Year’s eve… (but that’s another story — maybe).

Ten years in not necessarily a long time. We might read the biography of a famous person and notice that in 1772 he composed a famous sonata and in 1782 moved to Bucharest, say. Ten years. But for me, 2003 is a lifetime ago. Ten years is a very long time for me. I could try to remember what transpired in the early 2000’s — with effort — (I have a very good memory) but that wouldn’t take away the ‘fact’ that events of ten years ago seem as if they happened to another person and in another time. Ten years, in other words, “feels” more like twenty.

I am not quite sure what to make of this screwed up feeling regarding the passage of time. Events can seem like they occurred only a few months ago when in fact they happened at least a year before, while, as already said, the opposite is more often the case.

Does anyone feel as if one year ago felt ‘right’, i.e. more or less 365 days?

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