The older I get, the more I think about time. Maybe that’s because I’m running out of time, or maybe time is just how we link our memories.
Now that I’m retired my sleep patterns are changing. I guess work made me a solid sleeper. Now I sleep whenever I feel like it, and more and more I find myself waking up in the middle of the night. I’ve discovered 4am is a great time to listen to music on the headphones. This morning’s random play started with “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” sung by Judy Collins.
One reason 4am is a great time to listen to music is because my mind exists in a disassociated dream-state. Music and lyrics trigger images and thoughts that don’t surface during the daylight hours. Since I also have a bit of a cold, my mind was even more weird. Colds make me nostalgic, and listening to a song about where did the time go really pushed that button. I even played it twice.
I do not fear the time
Who knows how my love grows
Who knows where the time goes
Me and my friends are getting older and we often talk about where does the time go, and lament that time is running out. If I live an average lifetime, I only have about as many years as I did from 2000 till now. That’s both a lot of time, and not very much. I already know many from my generation that have passed on, and the people I spend time with are becoming old friends in both age and the length of time I’ve known them.
Getting old sucks, but what can you do about it? I have a philosophical bent that lets me enjoy my decay, but my friends think I’m morbid.
There’s a weird dichotomy between the people I knew before thirty, and those after forty. Some of my “new” friends I’ve known for twenty years, yet sometimes when I’m hanging out with them I feel like I’m with strangers. Maybe blood kinship only feel tighter because those are the people we’ve known since the beginning of our personal time, and everyone we met after we’ve adultified still feel like strangers.
Since my playlist was on random, it was rather serendipitous that the next song was “Old Friends” by Simon and Garfunkel. It was a song written back in the 1960s imagining being old at seventy I realized that Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are now in their seventies.
Can you imagine us years from today
Sharing a park bench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy
There are damn few people I knew growing up that I’m still in contact with now. What’s funny is I used to wonder back in the 1960s what all those rock stars I admired then would be like in their seventies. Now I know. It’s so fucking weird to see Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Rolling Stones on TV. I’m still playing albums those guys made back when, picturing them from their classic covers, but seeing wrinkled old coots on my TV screen.
In the darkness, half asleep, I think about how Susan and I are getting old, and so are all our friends, and how we’re all worrying about becoming feeble or demented. I seem to worry about different things things than my lady friends. They hate so much not being young, but they seem to have their health. My friend Connell and I, worry more about our failing bodies. We don’t mind the wrinkles, but know our bodies aren’t going to hold out like the ladies, who will probably all last until their nineties. Connell and I think we’ll fade away before our eighties. I’ve known Connell since 1966, so we’ll be old friends in our seventies. Some of my lady friends might have as many years ahead as they’ve had since 1980.
While listening to “Old Friends” in a dreamy state, half in, and half out, of consciousness, I had many revelations about time, things that seemed so insightful in the four o’clock hour of the morning, but now lost in the light of day. I wish I could recapture the brilliance of my visions, but I can’t. I live a strange life now by not working, spending most of my time processing the past. I still do things in the now with friends, but my nine-to-five time is mostly spent in the profession of studying the relics of time. I am a temporal archeologist.
I graze on time. I study science that chronicles billions of years. I read histories that span thousands of years. I read novels from the past three centuries. I watch movies that span nine decades. I listen to popular music that span the same nine decades. I read biographies that take me up and down the past. I study 3,000 year old religions and philosophy that are distilled from 300,000 years of ancient thoughts. I graze on time while my own dwindling 4D space is being consumed.
The next song that came on was “Hello Stranger” by Barbara Lewis.
It seems so good to see you back again
How long has it been
Seems like a mighty long time
How very strange, because it feels like I’m constantly reacquainting myself with old friends.
Wow, three songs in a row about time, what a coincidence. Maybe fate is telling me something. Or maybe time is very essential to song writing. I wonder if I went through my playlist of All Time Favorites at Spotify, how many songs will I find about time?
Laying in the 4:14 am dark, with my eyes closed, in a serene state of floating consciousness, listening to my Spotify playlist through an old pair of Sony Walkman headphones attached to my iPod touch, I realized just how much time I spend consuming the past. I study cosmology about things billions of years old, and evolution about things millions of years old, and history of things thousands of years old, and pop culture that spans hundreds of years, and my parent’s life since 1916, and old movies of the 1930s and 1940s, and my life since 1951, and rock music and science fiction since the 1960s, and computers since the 1970s, and computer networks since the 1980s, and the internet since the 1990s, and all the great TV shows since the turn of the century.
I could restate that list over and over again with different examples.
I now like to think of my memory as a timeline, and my life in retirement is about moving up and down that timeline learning new stuff to fill in the ticks of time. Laying in the dark I think of all the people I’ve known, many of which are dead, or I’ve lost contact with, who exist along my timeline since 1951. Interspersed between the memory of people on the timeline are songs, and next to the songs are books I read while listening to music. Or maybe television shows I watched with different people, or places I visited with other people. It does seem like a mighty long time.
Time is the thread that ties everything together, and who knows where it goes.
JWH – 7/13/14