When I wrote yesterday’s blog, “A Review of 2012 Takes Me from Sad to Sweet,” I ended by saying I needed a part II because I had neglected to mention so much of what was significant for me in 2012. I certainly could continue to cite the highlights of my year—from book writing (not done yet) to weight lifting (I decided to continue on with my excellent trainer)—but my reflective mind seems to have moved on to a new vantage point.
Today I am focusing not so much on events but on the sensation of time itself.
What does it mean that a year has passed? Is a year a long time? A short time? How does one even think about a year’s time?
“I can’t believe we’re already at the end of 2012!” I heard that on a tv talk show this morning (as I trundled on the treadmill), and many social conversations include variations on “this year is going so fast!” Indeed, in the course of the year, as we watch the months move along, time does seem to progress swiftly. Sometimes it seems that the only way to slow down time is to be trapped in a deeply uncomfortable situation or set a date for something too marvelous to wait for.
But as I stand at the end of 2012 and think about all that has happened this year (yes, back to the events…), I realize that a year is a very long time. A lot changes both outside me and within me. Going from age 60 to 61 isn’t like going from 6 to 7 (which is really an eon in child time). But it’s not nothing.
Part of the point of reflection at year’s end is, I believe, to catch up with that inner sense of being in time, to realize how much potential a year holds, how much time it is. Reflection gives you a chance to acknowledge the year’s difficulties and appreciate the inner strength that has carried you through. To get a clear view of self-improvements, even if they seemed slower in coming and perhaps smaller in magnitude than hoped for. To enjoy being yourself, both whole and incomplete, good enough and imperfect.
New Year’s Eve and its rituals give us a way to slow time down. We enumerate the year’s events to make time more visible to us. We treat the seconds before and after midnight as fundamentally different than other time bits throughout the year and consequently experience them as longer and more concrete. We state our intentions for the new year to promise ourselves growth—and to protect against time rushing by without our noticing.
Two years ago on this day I wrote about time consciousness. I understood that I needed a certain kind of time in my life and the wisdom to use it well. Was that a long time ago or the blink of an eye? Am I circling back to something old or moving ahead with new understanding? Perhaps I have to answer “yes” to all those questions. Time never has just one answer.
Happy New Year to readers of The Reflective Writer Blog!
Wishing you a pleasurable reflection and all the time you need.
Questions for Reflection: How do you like to reflect on the past year? Does the year seem to have moved quickly or slowly? What do you notice when you contemplate time passing?
Writing Prompts: “Time seems to move most quickly when ______” (then keep writing); “I experience time more consciously when ______” (then keep writing); “As we move to the new year, I reflect in order to ______” (then keep writing); “If I could change my experience of time, I would ______” (then keep writing).