Einstein originally came up with the relationship between space and time known as the space-time continuum. How Stuff Works .com explains this in an article about how warp speed works in relationship to Captain Kirk and his Enterprise team. It all has to do with traveling at or above the speed of light. According to How Stuff Works:
“Einstein realized that space and time are relative — an object in motion actually experiences time at a slower rate than one at rest. Although this may seem absurd to us, we travel incredibly slow when compared to the speed of light, so we don’t notice the hands on our watches ticking slower when we’re running or traveling on an airplane. Scientists have actually proved this phenomenon by sending atomic clocks up with high-speed rocket ships. They returned to Earth slightly behind the clocks on the ground.”
My mind was never able to fully grasp this concept before and it still remains a mystery to me.
I have experienced time running slow or fast, however. Sitting in a boring 50-minute history class in high school the minutes dragged by. I know this because I saw every one of them pass as I watched the clock on the wall above the door that led to freedom. Now, in these middle years of my life, the days fly past me like a leaf on the wind.
Time is a mystery. Maybe that’s because we think of time as a container for other things. I think of the time spent with our children and grandchildren that flashes past with moments of love and pride and laughter. I think of the finite number of days we’ll spend together in this lifetime and how we spend each one down never knowing how close we are to the end.
I started thinking about the concept of time because I was thinking about the book that I self-published. This has been a tough month with very low sales and it makes me feel, in some ways, like a failure. When I recognized that, I became able to deal with it. I’m not looking for reassurance that I was a flaming success because I wrote the book, edited it, and published it. I understand this to be a big accomplishment for me. The point I think I’m trying to make is that I feel bad about it because I feel like I am running out of time to make a success of myself.
I don’t know if I would have felt that way if I would have had a career with promotions, or a savings account from the money I’d made while working the last 30 years at a job. I stayed at home to raise our children, and although in my finer moments I realize this to be an accomplishment, a success, a fine use of the time in my life, at other times the doubt or inner drive and aspiration unsettles me.
On just a practical level, here in this house I have projects I’ve started that I’d like to finish. For example, I want to finish scanning photos from old magnetic non-archival photo albums to put them in better albums and create digital files to share with our children. I’m about half way done. I have the photos. I have the scanner. I have the new albums with plenty of spare empty pages. What I don’t seem to be able to find is the time.
My writing, reading, photography, needlework, gardening, genealogy—all of these are pursuits I want to follow. But there never seems to be enough time.
And that is the truth of the matter. I realized that in midlife. There will never be enough time to do all the things I’d like to do. Somehow I never really thought in those terms when I was younger and time seemed more of a friend to me.
Now time chases ahead of me and I am forced to make careful and conscious decisions of how I will spend this valuable, priceless commodity.
I hope Einstein is right. I hope as I slow down with age, time will slow down with me. Only time will tell.