I’ve heard it said that time moves in one direction and memory in the other. I would argue there should be an asterisk following that phrase, an asterisk which leads to a very large disclaimer stating both accelerate exponentially with age.
Most days pass without my feeling much like a full-fledged adult. I’m at the teetering point between early-30s and mid-30s, married with a mortgage, car payment, full-time job and 3 little mouths to feed (ok, so they belong to dogs and a cat)…but it seems all that does not an adult make.
What does make me feel very adult-ish is the shift in how I perceive the workings of the world. The statement above about time and memories moving rapidly in opposite directions—that’s new for me. I used to scoff at those who claimed life seemed to speed by after a certain point; now I believe them. Not only do I believe them, I can personally attest to feeling that way.
Last Saturday morning, the start of Labor Day weekend, should have been one for the memory banks. Just after 7am, I awoke from a sound sleep to the sensation of the house shaking. I didn’t think our washing machine was on a spin cycle and the dogs weren’t scratching up against the bed, so my mind jumped to “earthquake.” When the shaking lasted for the better part of a minute, I slid out of bed and peeked into the tall foyer to find the pendant light swaying. The evidence stacked up, but an earthquake in Kansas City?! Tornados are prevalent, flooding and droughts alternate with relative frequency and we get an ice storm that devastates the region every 20 years or so. There’s a reason midwesterners are considered hardy stock!
Earthquakes, though, are something of a head-scratcher even with our proximity to the New Madrid fault (which has been eerily quiet for as long as anyone I know has been alive). But an earthquake it was—5.8 centered in north-central Oklahoma.
The quake was all anyone on local news outlets and social media could talk about… For a couple of hours at least. Without any damage to remind us, the morning’s confusion and subsequent excitement faded. By day’s end it was nothing more than a brief topic of conversation at family gatherings, a cursory impression.
We are a people of short memory. It’s an element of the human condition that is both perpetuated and intensified by the digital age in which we live. Fads explode across our tethered screens and then fizzle like a fleeting shock of static-electricity. I can’t fathom what warp speed time will be when I finally feel like an established adult some day, and I can only hope my aging mind keeps up with the amount of energy it will take to maintain any sort of lasting memories.