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12 April, 2009

Time dilation and compression

It's no surprise that time flies when you're having a good time. And it's also no surprise that minutes and hours can seem interminable, when one is bored. How to write about this in a non-trite way, so that time does not dilate for you, my fair reader, is the big challenge.

My mother died exactly one year ago. And to me, it's amazing how quickly that year passed. This weekend, I wanted to try to do something "special" to mark that memory. I wanted to go someplace beautiful and just "have a moment". But much like when you go to the zoo, and try to see the snow leopards feed, usually the snow leopards are hiding in their holding pen behind 4 feet of concrete. The only way you get to see the snow leopards is when you are not telling everyone for weeks about your plans. And then, of course, the battery in your digital camera will undoubtedly be dead.

Like my mom. And, like the snow leopards, that magic moment of emotion and catharsis did not come. I did go someplace beautiful. And the moment was everything that it should have been. But I did not get to have my emotion. Ironically, I am sure, that emotion will happen while driving down I-405 some morning, on the way to work, while listening to a Rolling Stones song (possible candidate: "You Got The Silver").

You don't get to pick your moments like that.

But back to time. A year flew by, and so much did happen, much of it bad, some of it great.

Reminds me of a great quote of my grandmother. She always said: "As I get older and older, the days seem to last forever, but the years fly by"

I always liked that quote, and it portrayed a certain kind of wisdom that one is only allowed to exhibit when they've been around about 80 years, I think. And I guess I like that sentiment, though it is kind of a bittersweet one. Is it that time is escaping us, in a grand sense? Or is it a simple numbers game? The more years you are alive, the smaller and smaller the percentage each year is of your life. But does that really explain the days? I guess not. And maybe it's just that our memory is failing us? Maybe the granularity of memory decays year by year, so that our ability to piece together just how much time this past year was gets progressively worse with age.

The fact that last year went so quickly... does it mean that I am getting old? Forty. That's halfway to eighty.

I wish I could make certain moments last forever. But I can't. The beauty and perfection of a moment comes and goes and all that preserves it is our ability to retain it, revisit it, or recreate it. And will it ever be the same? I don't know. Everything changes.

But I will try very hard to hold some of these memories, while trying similarly hard to let go of others. It's like panning for gold in the mind.

Time is precious, so I will stop here, so we can all continue with our lives this evening.

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