Time passing too quickly? Make it heavy

Photo by Warlen G Vasco via Unsplash

If I had longer hair I suspect it would be looking extremely windswept at the moment. I zip through weeks at such a rate I’m overtaking younger people still sight-seeing at the start of their adult lives.

Last Saturday I was preparing to eat in the restaurant at Holbeck Ghyll near Lake Windermere. With my wife Laura. Today — one full week later — I’m sitting on the sofa alone back home in Surrey waiting to hear from Laura, who has been in Malta since Wednesday.

At my age, last Saturday feels closer to yesterday that seven days ago. Growing up, I would hear older people talk of how the weeks appears to rush by and I would smile and nod my head and think it crazy talk.

I know different now.

When Penelope Fitzgerald finally started writing books as she closed in on 60 years of age, she must have heard Andrew Marvell’s wingèd chariot of time hurrying near.

In a burst of energy in the subsequent years she created nine novels, three biographies, and a collection of stories. The first six of those books were published within five years. And for the first few years of this period she was still working as a teacher, nursed her husband through his terminal cancer, and was an active mother to three adult children whose own lives made demands on hers.

I can only guess at the blur of time as it passed her on the stairs every day. And yet, it could very well be the amount she packed into every day that applied the brakes, at least long enough for her to find pockets of peace in which to compose.

In the same way that it is suggested that if you want something urgent done, give it to a busy person, perhaps to slow down time we need to fill it to the brim. Weight time down.

And, instinctively, I believe this is true. Although a day empty of activity or plans may drag — and suggest time is passing slowly — on reflection it is the busy days that appear to buy us more time.

And is there a conclusion to this little exercise in time probing?

There is, there is. Fill a day with activity. Start each day with a plan. Go to bed at the end of a day with a sense of things done rather than with the existential dread that another day has slipped its moorings and drifted downstream.