I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately—in particular, the passage of time. So often I think of Time as an elusive resource, even an antagonist—slipping through my fingers—fingers which all too often are left clenched and grasping at its threads. I resent its unceasing passage, its whirlwind pace. I feel caught up in it, spinning out of control. Too much to do, too little time.
But right now I’m facing the sweet onset of summer and the gift of time. Time to write, time to sit, time to think. Time to connect. I often find the adjustment a bit challenging—from full-tilt all-speed-ahead to sudden stop and stillness. There’s a jolt to my system—skid marks on my psyche. It takes time to find the rhythm of the days and my wheels spin on occasion, not quite adjusted to the slow, syrupy pace of summer days and a seeming surfeit of time.
Last week I spent the night down in Rockport, MA with an “old” friend, Sue, and her children at their rented beach house. Other than a few blips here and there, we’ve been doing this for years. It’s always been a wonderful time to relax and reconnect. Sue and I speak the shorthand of a long friendship. The year apart is insignificant and serves only to provide material for our conversations, the threads of which we set down each summer on long beach walks and which wait patiently through a long winter for us to pick up again, as we do, without a hitch, continuing to weave the fabric of our friendship. On the drive home I realized that we’ve been friends for 26 years now. How is that even possible?
Time in Rockport has always been a time away from time. It is even more so now that I teach and Sue’s visit coincides with the first days of summer vacation. I swear I took my first full breath in months, sitting at the beach, feeling the sun on my face, listening to the hiss of the surf and the calls of the gulls and realizing that for now, time was on my side. I had nothing pressing to do, nowhere to go, and could just be. Summer began to gently unfold before me like the waves unfurling and washing onto the sand at my feet.
This summer, inspired by a long-ago photo, I took a picture of my daughters and Sue’s.
I look at these photos side by side and the differences take my breath away. Clearly, even in Rockport, time presses on—the hiatus, while sweet and soothing, is illusory. While the minutes seemingly have passed slowly, this evidence of accumulating years divulges their steady pace. Time, stealthy Time, has been hard at work. Its inexorable tide has transformed these small, innocent faces into beautiful, young women. And though I yearn at times to slow down time’s passing, who would want to stop such a beautiful process?