This is a really weird, weird thought and I’m not sure I’m going to be able to express it well. This was a thought I had at Zumba today (I have quite a few weird thoughts at Zumba, almost as many as I have sat on the toilet). I’m feeling quite emotional and a little anxious at the moment. Tonight marks the end of a glorious, long, lazy seven weeks off the treadmill, also known as life. Tomorrow, my youngest starts Year 1 and my middle boy starts Year 5 (the eldest has one more day off – lucky sausage). I am also going to the University of Wolverhampton for an induction day tomorrow as I am about to start the final lap of a Fine Art degree. My weird thought is: why does the ‘now’ of time feel so huge and the past and present so insignificant?
We live in the ‘now’. At the moment I live in Shrewsbury. I live in this house which I love (built circa 1890 and full of history and the echoes of its former inhabitants). Two of my children go to the same primary school (the lovely Crowmoor Primary). I have friends who live here. My children have lots of friends. I see the same people most days during term time. Every Monday I go to Zumba. I spend most of my days working on Oxford Scholarship Online or the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. If I’m not working I’m pursuing my art degree, being a parent governor, doing the odd bit of arty activities at my children’s primary school, attending meetings, having coffees in my favourite coffee shop in town, or watching The West Wing and Oranges Are The New Black (amongst others). Otherwise I might be reading books, talking with my children or sitting exactly where I am sitting now writing blogs. That is my ‘now’.
My ‘now’ feels huge to me. It is there during all my waking hours. It is the first thing I think about when I wake up. It is the last thing I remember as I finally fall asleep. It is the cause of most of my worries and joys. The little conversations that go through my head as I’m lying in bed are from the ‘now’.
How often do I live in the past: my past in Stafford, Exeter, Japan, Oxford or Charlbury? And what about my future? How often do I live there? Where will I be a year from now, five years, ten years?
When I was in my past, for example, in Japan, life seemed huge. That ‘past’ was my ‘now’ and it was there all the time in my consciousness. My life in Japan was: teaching, shopping, cycling, trains, Tokyo, curry, The X Files, The Big 10 Video Store, heat, sweat, cold, blue skies, cherry blossoms, beer, yakitori, the Kinokunya bookshop, students, teachers and learning Japanese. I can vaguely remember all of that being all of my waking existence. But now I think about it about once a month, maybe twice at the most. Why isn’t that past, which was so big at the time, more solid? All it is memories in my head and the heads of those I lived with, worked with, taught and befriended. It isn’t tangible. It only exists if I exist and they exist. That time isn’t now huge to the people who were large in my life then, it is as small to them as it is to me. They are all now in their own ‘nows’.
The same goes for my future. In ten years time I have no idea where I will be. My youngest will be fifteen. I will have long finished my art degree. Perhaps I’ll have continued and have further qualifications. Perhaps not. Perhaps I’ll be a famous artist hobnobbing with Grayson Perry. Perhaps not. I might not even be here anymore (ie living with the worms). I can’t say. But my future occupies my consciousness maybe once a month, twice sometimes.
Isn’t that simply really weird? If the ‘now’ feels so huge at this very moment, why will it be so small in ten years from now? Life is like living on a crest of a wave, I’m repeating a weird thought from May 2014 (I’m nothing if not consistent in my weird thinking). The crest is now. The now is moving along and we stay on that crest. The crest feels huge. As the crest moves, the ‘now’ recedes and becomes the past. The future looks small ahead of us and the crest is hurtling towards it. I can’t control it.
Watch out the future, here I come. Time is just odd. My conclusion then is that it is best not to think too hard about time and just enjoy The West Wing, slope off to bed with a cup of herbal tea and a piece of chocolate orange.