Posted by: Lisa Pampuch | August 30, 2005

Unmistakable signs of the passage of time

“Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician.” ~ Unknown

Lately I’ve been seeing some not-so-subtle reminders that I’m getting older.

Just this week, one of the most well-known signs of middle age appeared upon my nose: reading glasses. Actually, because I spend hours a day in front of computers, they are technically computer glasses, prescribed by my optometrist to ease the strain my eyes have been suffering as a result of their age-reduced ability to focus as much as they used to when I was younger. Yes, I’ve got that curse of middle age, presbyopia.

But because what I mostly do on the computer is read, let’s face it, these spectacles perched upon my nose as I write might be called computer glasses, but they’re really old-fashioned reading glasses.

That means that in my memory-challenged middle age, I’m now expected to juggle three pairs of glasses: distance vision, distance vision sunglasses and these new computer/reading glasses.

I suspect matronly chains for my many pairs of glasses are in my not-too-distant future.

“I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.” ~ William Shakespeare

Then there’s the rest of my body. I’ve been working in the garden quite a bit this summer, and I’m not talking about a little deadheading and light pruning. I’ve been wrestling with overgrown ivy, potato vine, heavenly bamboo, jasmine and agapanthus plants. I took out a couple of shrubs, lined a raised bed with landscape blocks, and laid a 60 square-foot concrete paver patio.

I’ve been working so hard in the garden that I suspect I’m setting records for yard waste recycling. On my last pickup day, one member of the yard waste crew stood with his hands on his hips shaking his head as he surveyed the five 30-gallon yard waste bags, two 32-gallon trash cans and huge yard waste toter, all filled to overflowing, awaiting him at my curb.

But all that yard work comes with sore muscles and, even more irksome, a hip joint that complains if I sit too long in an odd position. When and why did that start? I also notice it’s a lot more work to get these old bones up from the ground than it used to be.

“Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations.” ~ Faith Baldwin

Watching my children grow and pass milestones is an even stronger reminder than my minor physical ailments of the passage of time. My son, my first child, is a high school student. How can that possibly be? It seems impossible that it was more than 14 years ago that we brought him home from the Ohio State University Medical Center to our house not far from campus. It was more than a decade ago that we brought our daughter home from that same hospital, this time to a house in the suburbs that we had no idea that we’d been leaving in 15 months to head to Silicon Valley.

Sometimes I think that when my children are grown and on their own that I might like to retire to a city apartment, perhaps San Francisco, perhaps New York City, with a plethora of museums, shows, restaurants and shopping a short walk or quick ride on public transportation away.

But then I spend some time picking the fruits of my gardening labors – delicious cherry tomatoes, fragrant basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, oregano and parsley, succulent raspberries – or watching the hummingbirds and butterflies visiting the plants I selected to to attract them, and I wonder if I really could live happily without a chunk of land to garden and to mark the passage of time.

Removing overgrown plants, replacing them with fresh new specimens, watching my children move from infancy to toddlerhood to elementary school to middle school and now high school, and even feeling and seeing the effects of time on my body remind me of the importance of spending time doing things we love with the ones we love. It also reminds me that time is a precious resource that we fritter away at our own peril. Keeping these two opposing thoughts in my head at the same time, I suspect, is a key to a well-spent life:

“You may delay, but time will not.” ~ Benjamin Franklin

“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” ~ Bertrand Russell


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