I was reminiscing over a recent holiday when I realised that it had happened over six month ago. Not only that, despite going half way round the world to renew old friendships, I had let time slip and have had no contact with them in the last three months. Where had the time gone?
A small wee voice in my head said, “That’s age for you. Things go so much faster as you get older. Get used to it.”
And the rebel in me said “No!” I’m not ready to give up on all my dreams and ambitions. I still haven’t decided what I am going to do when I grow up. On the inside – and I reckon on the outside – I’m way too young to just accept age gracefully.
Ok, I’m going to hit the big 50 later this year. And there’s one or two wrinkles starting to show (whoops, sorry, laughter lines). However, there are very few things that I could have done at twenty that I can’t do now. And at 20 I wouldn’t have appreciated them anyway.
Maybe that’s why time suddenly wants so much more of my attention. It doesn’t want to slip by unnoticed. Suddenly the moments count. Not just the moments, but the wealth of experience that lies within each moment. There is so much going on in a single instant – a bird song, the flavour of a good cup of tea, the sound of laughter, the tug on your heart when you see kindness between strangers. It’s also the not so nice things: a pain somewhere or an unkind word. There is something secure about being in touch with how that feels inside. You allow the moment to exist, safe in the knowledge that, like every other moment, it will pass.
However, the converse of time travelling so quickly is that it seems incredible that I only discovered mindfulness in the last couple of years. I feel now as if I’ve been practising it so much longer.
During a recent conversation with my teacher, we agreed that mindfulness, once you experience it, will stay with you forever. Once learned, you cannot unlearn it. The speed at which it becomes part of your life may differ from person to person. However, there are times when you’re so engaged in the present moment, you find yourself realising “Ah, this is being mindful.”
So, I am going to carry on planning for the future, having hopes and ambitions. However, I am learning to do it while being firmly routed in the present. In his book “Happier”, Dr Tal Ben-Shahar said “The proper role of goals is to liberate us, so that we can enjoy the here and how.” And that’s what I plan to do. I may be getting older, but time is still travelling at the same speed it has always travelled at – that’s at 60 minutes per hour, in case you were wondering.