The Sounds of the Passage of Time

As I often mention, gentle reader, I live my life with a bit of a double-effect narrator in my head. Even when I am in the moment, I recognize that right now will someday be a memory, so I tend to reflect on right now as though it has already passed even as it is passing. Perhaps that’s why I read so much Buddhism and Stoicism: they justify the way I already experience the world.

As such, certain sounds have always heightened this experience. One is the passage of wind through full trees.

I remember very acutely sitting on the back steps of the house down the gravel road. The back steps were really just three concrete steps from the door at the back of the garage. We didn’t have a deck. We didn’t even have a stoop. Just three concrete steps.

The steps looked out on the back yard. We had an acre or two, but only about one of it was level and clear; the remainder, across the creek, climbed up our slice of a hill and was heavily wooded. It was summer, about sunset, but it was already darkening on the eastern side of the hill. I was back from college for a couple of weeks, as most of my break time was spent in Wisconsin, working and going to festivals. I closed my eyes as the summer breeze tousling the treetops and recognized that my college years, my youth, were passing like that wind.

I’ve closed my eyes from time to time when sitting out on my back decks in Casinoport and here at Nogglestead when the wind has moved through full trees, and I could almost reach through the years and feel exactly as I did then, whether the then was sitting on those concrete steps at age twenty or underneath the crab apple trees at age thirty or the glider at age forty-five. To know I would likely again sit with my eyes closed and listen to the wind in the trees sometime in the future and remember now. I feel eternity a bit, I think, when I do.

About the same time as I was sitting on those back steps, Sting’s “Fields of Gold” hit the radio.

It was 1993, and I was about to finish up college. I was mooning over a girl who didn’t care for me, as was often the case in those years, so the thought of a love was a hopeful speculation at that point. But the song has the double-effect narrator who recognizes that the profound, eternal loves of youth pass like the wind through barley.

When I hear that song, as I did yesterday, I feel the very same melancholic nostalgia that I do every time–the same as when I first heard the song, before I had anything to really feel nostalgia for.

And when I hear it in the future, even if it’s just reviewing this post in the days or years to come, I will feel the same, and the connection to my youth and my now (which will be my youth when I’m older).

Even if my life isn’t facing a big transition as it was then (from college to post-college), these sounds remind me of the passage of time, and that I will transit to different things in my life and will only remember now, maybe, then.