How many times have we heard the question or uttered the phrase
Where has the time gone?
In almost all cases, it’s a hackneyed expression, of little meaning to anyone living amid the whirring now – where time is like air and noise filling the gaps between atoms. But, to those living in the here-and-now, time is an ever-present, unconsciously tapped resource.
That said, the expression “Where has the time gone?” becomes “unhackneyed” to a parent whose child is preparing to leave home for the first time. As your child takes flight from the protective, loving, and caring environment that they worked so hard to provide, the question “where has the time gone?” seems as concrete a question as “Where are my keys?” or “Has anyone seen my wallet?”
As that day of departure approaches, I find myself whispering that phrase in pre-dawn seclusion, puffy-eyed in front of the bathroom mirror – I feel the words knocking around the inside of my skull late at night as I lay wide-eyed in darkness.
WHERE HAS THE TIME GONE?
As parents, we know where it went.
It went to the thousands of moments that (over time) formed the connective plasm between you and your child.
As parents we immersed ourselves in the fecundity of time – we became part of it – and it became part of us – we used it as needed, for whatever circumstance we faced – on a daily, hourly, or minute-by-minute basis – from the big life-lessons to the little league games – we took the time to sooth our kids through the transitory aches and pains of skinned knees and bruised egos.
Like Sherpa, we packed time away, along with knowledge, life experience, and love to help our kids crisscross the complex landscape of a wounded soul — to scale the jagged edges of a broken heart or to seek respite from the deep sorrow of loss. A sorrow that we will wallow in when our kids leave.
Who will be our Sherpa?
As the day of flight draws near, time becomes a sacred commodity – I wish I could cast a spell on it – to thicken it – to slow it down – I want desperately to corral it, stockpile it, and optimize its use.
But no matter my desire to control time, it marches on steadfastly and unapologetically. To our son, who is getting ready to leave, time stretches out before him like a shimmering ocean of opportunity – a totally different perspective on time.
I’m learning the most satisfying use of time these days is simply enjoying it – to savor it – even the most transient of moments.
An evening ago, I watched my son back out of the driveway. A waning late afternoon sun reflected off the dogwood and pine, giving birth to a speckled blanket of light on the lawn. From his car, the melodic sound of Henley’s “Boys of Summer” became one with the cool summer breeze. He looked good – comfortable in his skin – he was on his way to pick up his girlfriend. This was a moment in time that 2 years ago, I would not have given a second thought to – but now I let it wash over me, and I settle peacefully in its glow.