Tonight at dinner my 21-year-old son started to say words adult’s say. “How did it get this late? How did time suddenly change speeds? How is my cousin now married? How is time moving faster now?”
It made me both giggle and sigh. I felt bad for him. He is hitting the part of life where life is fast. And it made me wonder why. Why is life slow as a child, fast as an adult, and slow again when you are old? First, I thought, that’s easy…it’s because we are ridiculously busy when we are adults. But then I thought, no, busyness has nothing to do with it. It is all about control.
When we are kids, our parents, teachers and pretty much everyone else control our lives. We don’t get to decide, not really. It’s why it takes so long for Christmas or our birthdays to come. We have to wait a long time to actually get something we want…something we hope for…and even then it doesn’t always work out the way we expected. We wait. We wait for a small piece of control—asking for something and then, if we are lucky, getting it—finally.
When we hit the adult world it is a sudden jolt. Suddenly we make all the decisions. We are in control of everything and we make a thousand decisions a day. Small ones, like breakfast. Big ones, like marriage. And with our hands on the controls of our own lives there are more decisions than time. It is probably why time in jail seems so long (I’m assuming, of course). Loss of control equals the slowing down of time.
So here’s the question. Is there something we can do to slow down time without losing control?
Vacation? That works sometimes when we give up some of the control to the housekeeping staff or the taxi driver. Or maybe those rare occasions we refuse to make decisions and spend some quiet time with our thoughts…but not thoughts about what we are going to do or need to do.
It just seems like it is hard to find the balance between control and loss of control—each of which is both a prison and a paradise.