Great Minds Think Alike, And So Do Ours

I was talking to the woman at the cleaners who handles my eldest’s JROTC uniform weekly about how time passes differently for kids versus we elder folk because each year is a larger percentage of their lives than ours. So a kid who’s fifteen, his fifteenth year is 7 percent of his life, and likely 10 or more percent of the life that he remembers well. Someone who’s going through his fiftieth year, the year is only 2 percent, and he might not remember much of it at all.

On Friday, Wilder, Wealthy, and Wise, explained:

I’ve long felt that I understood why this was. Let me give it a shot.

For a newborn, the second day it’s outside and breathing is 50% of its entire life. For a six-year-old, half of their life is three years – much more. It’s not a big percentage, but it’s much smaller than 50%. For a sixteen-year-old, half their life is eight years.

If you’re forty – half your life is twenty years. 1/8 versus 1/20? It’s amazingly different. We don’t perceive life as a line. We’re living inside of it – we compare our lives to the only thing we have . . . our lives. Each day you live is smaller than the last.

But that’s not everything.

As we age, novelty decreases. When we’re young, experiences and knowledge are coming at us so quickly that we are presented with novel (new and unique) information daily. New words. New thoughts. New ideas.

I have known this and have explained it to my sons and to everyone who will listen.

I have some photos rotating on my auxiliary monitor beside me; one crops up of the boys with medals for a middle school event. To me, it was very recent; to the boys, this was, what, 2018? A long time ago. By the time that period elapses again, the oldest will be out of the house, and the youngest will be, what, a junior in high school? The whole lives that they have known here will only be an interlude in my life, and the soon-to-be-over beginning of the rest of their lives. I’ve known this, too, for a while–I have been saying that we’re on the downhill slide since the oldest was nine. But it gets realer and realer in my imagination.

I already grieve for this time, even as I spend too much of it on work and other things or being frustrated/exasperated with them when I’m with them. Fortunately, I will only remember the best parts. And not my own, what, dread of our separation?

Buy My Books!
Buy John Donnelly's Gold Buy The Courtship of Barbara Holt Buy Coffee House Memories