The tango-dancing leaves of spring.
Your first snowflake. Your first snowman. Your first paper route. The first time you quit it.
The crashing vastness and overwhelming busyness of your first visit Downtown. Your first trip abroad. The first time you get to press on a gas pedal. That very first kiss.
Our youth consists of many firsts.
But soon summer becomes too hot and you hide inside. You gradually become allergic to freshly cut grass. You recognize that popsicles have far too much sugar so you switch to healthy options, like biting into frozen fruit. Or worse, drinking coconut water. Downtown no longer seems so vast and just like your parents, you begin to complain that it’s noisy and dirty. Everywhere you turn, people ask you for money. The big city you grew up in now seems like a small town. You stop building snowmen. And driving becomes a mundane responsibility, filled with traffic jams and encounters with poorly behaved fellow citizens. You begin to wear sunglasses, even when it’s overcast.
But you’re not completely lost. Sometimes you’ll take a moment and recognize a beautiful red sunset, or howl at a full moon with abandon. You’re even prepared to let your neighbors witness your seemingly mad actions. You don’t care. Sometimes a song will come on the radio and you’ll drive to it, pretending you’re on a road-trip of a lifetime or a paperback hero in pursuit of a bad guy. You’ll pick up the groceries, and return to your bubble of imagination.
There are still many first kisses to be had. Frogs to transform into princes. Fears to slay. Places to uncover. Books to get lost in. Movies to get overwhelmed by. Music to overtake your senses. Treasures to dig for. That first grey hair?
When we’re young, everything is new. Our emotions overwhelm us. We respond to everything. We are astounded by the simplest things. We laugh and cry and turn on a dime.
Our lives are defined by moments. Like snowflakes, they hit our flesh and melt away. Before you know it, another year has caught its tail and time, a master illusionist, has made its great escape. It moves faster, the older we get.
There’s a secret though. There’s a trick to controlling time.
Have you noticed how when you come back from a trip, even a very short one, so much seems to have transpired? You’ve taken in so many images, sounds, thoughts, smells, and tastes, yet time feels like it has slowed down. On the other hand, when we do little, it’s astounding how quickly it gallops away.
You see, there’s a scientific explanation to it all. Our brains take longer to process new or otherwise special information, which causes us to perceive time as slower. When we encounter the familiar and mundane, our brain speeds up, unhindered, creating the distinct impression that time is an olympic contender.
So it’s no wonder that when we’re young, we think we have a lifetime ahead!
Although our physical bodies are taking cues elsewhere, that infamous fountain of youth is not quite so elusive for the rest of our being. Indeed, we can master time.
How? By doing things that fully engage us. That’s the key to slowing down time.
We can start by learning something new every day. Lucky for us, knowledge is a renewable resource. There are also always new people to meet. In fact, there are over 7 billion possibilities. There are nearly 200 countries to visit. Someday, we might get to even include planets in our tourism ambitions.
Have you ever driven a Go-Kart, conquered the big waves on a board, or gone paragliding? Have you spoken or sang in public? Petted a lion? Taken a risk that made your heart pound? Couldn’t stop laughing? Those are the things that heighten our senses and make us re-discover the world.
There are, of course, moments and “firsts” that we will never get to experience for the first time again, intense sensations that we’ll never replicate, dreams we’ve given away. But there’s still many firsts ahead, if you care to seek them out.
At the end of the day, all that we have for certain is the now. A moment in space.
So take good care of it.