Roger Marolt: The good ‘ol days passing in disguise
Where did the time go? It’s not a sentimental expression succinctly encapsulating into one fond memory all the fun I’ve had this year. It’s a real question. I’m not accumulating things to put in a holiday letter. I am not trying to find extra time to do something with. It’s more like I misplaced some. I had it and can’t remember where I set it down.
As in searching for all lost things, I’ll start from when I last had it. It was at the beginning of the pandemic. From there, I added time saved from less commuting. It accumulated further from fewer meetings. I banked more from not going to the gym. I saved a bunch not eating out. More came from not attending sporting events, concerts, and parties. It came from less travel, shopping, and not standing in line at the bank. It’s not like this amounted to an insubstantial chunk of additional time that would be easily wasted, yet I can’t account for a second of it.
I thought it would all add up to enough time to write another book. It hasn’t been enough to even read one. Is this just me?
The COVID-19 protocol of more time spent at home and less everywhere else has expanded to eight months and counting. I have done a lot fewer things than I normally would have, and it seems like those months have passed in a flash. I am not bored. I don’t have time to spare. How can this be?
It’s not like I have immersed myself in anything compelling enough to distract myself from the tragedy that has befallen the globe. My hours at work are comparable to prior years. I haven’t taken up new hobbies. If anything, I am going to bed later and waking earlier, building up even more free time.
The experience has given me perspective, perhaps another symptom of the virus. I find myself reminiscing, reminding myself of what time well-invested looks like.
There were all the years we spent getting to know each other and making new friends, raising kids, traveling, establishing a home, and building the business. In the moment, I thought those years flew by. But this doesn’t make any sense. With all we packed into them, you would think them too heavy to disappear like that. By comparison, they look larger than what the current year is amounting to. I think maybe my mind is playing a trick.
It took until now to realize this: The good ’ol days were long and pleasant, even though they seemed to pass at the speed of light. But, those times are always with us. They are still passing. The stuff not worth remembering is what zooms by. We don’t remember the blips and so that is our proof that the days our children came into this world were not just scratches across our lifelines. That we felt those good times went too fast says more about our longings than it does about the actual passage of time.
If we do nothing with time, it evaporates. If we fill it with tasks and tedious things, it floats away. It is only when we fill it with big plans and seize it tightly that it takes us along for a ride. Good time feels too short, but that is not the same thing as actually being short. The only way I can prove this to myself is by realizing I can’t forget the great moments.
Memories are simply time turbo-charged to keep pace with the speed of our lives passing by. Memories are time that wasn’t wasted. Everything forgotten was garbage. In the end, this year will be one that is crosshatched on the wall in indelible ink that won’t succumb to the whitewash of failing memory. Quarantining with your adult children is a surprise gift never guessed at. Keeping aging loved ones safe and feeling connected is an opportunity to gauge the depth of your character. Coming through a forced new work/life balance is the realization of a longed-for plan you otherwise might never have had the nerve to try.
If we end up with any long-term memories from this pandemic, which we certainly will, it means that we were profoundly affected, maybe in uncountable ways. There are good things in this we will recall, causing positive changes in us and the world. We know without doubt there will be things to be thankful for once the dust has settled. Being so sure of that, we might as well be grateful today in anticipation.
Roger Marolt is wishing you great times that move our spirits forward and will comfort us when we reach for them. email@example.com
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A faithful reader, known to his internet friends as “Ski Bum,” sent me the following quote after my last column. It seems fitting this week.