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Inanities

IT'S ABOUT TIME

by Nancy Rechtman

Do you remember a time when summer vacation was endless, that third grade took forever, that you felt as if you would never get out of high school? As we get older, we begin to discover that time is a valuable commodity, often spent with reckless abandon, with precious moments of our lives gone too soon.

Whatever happened to seasons being actual seasons, to holidays beginning in the months where they actually fall? Of course I remember growing up and watching the Christmas displays going up in the days after Thanksgiving, and end-of-season sales beginning a month before the actual season began. But in the rush to get those shopping dollars flowing, there aren't any boundaries at all anymore. This year, in the weeks before Halloween, I found very little in the way of Halloween décor left as I searched for pumpkin accoutrements and singing skeletons - I was too late. Instead, Christmas decorations overflowed into the aisles and the air was filled with holiday jingles - this was in the middle of October! It was close to 80 degrees in the region of the South where I currently reside - barely suitable for thinking about the holidays of autumn, let alone conjuring yearnings for eggnog and bringing out the sleds. And, just as the trees were beginning their annual transformation from staid and solid green to having blazing plumage adorn their branches, and the first leaves spiraled to the ground, the newspapers were filled with department store advertisements for clearance sales on their fall clothing lines! We already know that summer clothing and bikinis will begin dotting the mall landscape somewhere around New Year's.

The incongruity of actual season and shopping season has begun to cause a disconnect in our minds so that we no longer have any actual anchors to time and place. This causes us to fret in October about the fact that we haven't bought all of our presents yet for the holidays when they are coming up so soon. But when it's October, they are not coming up so soon, not really. But, you think, Christmas will be here before you even know it. That is because you have been rushed into believing this by the people who want you flooding the stores year-round and feeling anxious that you have not kept up with the times. If we weren't constantly watching the calendars and marking off the days to whatever specific event we are told we must prepare for, we might begin to relax and realize that there certainly is enough time before we need to panic that we haven't gotten things done.

What is of concern to me is watching my children feel that they must rush their lives in order to keep up with their peers. In large cities, the best preschools must be contacted while the child is in utero, and college looms as our children complete elementary school. Several years ago, when my children observed how quickly fifth grade had gone by, it broke my heart. Fifth grade is not supposed to go by quickly, neither is sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth. These are the years before kids should have to feel the pressure of life rushing by, when they should enjoy just hanging out and being with friends, of learning who they are. They should not feel that time is their enemy, stealing their youth before they're even aware that it is shadowing their every move.

We tend to obsess about youth, lamenting its speedy passage. With each passing decade of our lives, the acceleration of the years passing by seems to jump to hyper-speed. But we are complicit in propelling this passage every time we buy into this false notion of must-buy, must-have, must achieve by whatever artificial date is being emphasized. Of course I am aware that our economy is fueled by these sales, but when the cost is watching our lives hurtle by like an out-of-control train, isn't it time to slam on the brakes? When we already start planning for holidays a year in advance in order to save money, we are cheating ourselves and our children of living for now, of savoring each moment, of appreciating each precious breath that we take and every stage of life that we will only have the privilege of experiencing one time in our lives.

With the advent of video cameras and computers we may have a false sense that we can capture these moments, but they will quickly become memories of times that we were too busy chasing through the safety of a lens. Just like the notion of capturing lightning in a bottle. We must learn to put the camera down once in awhile and stop and take a clear look at what we actually have or we will indeed find ourselves stopping one day to wonder where it all went. As it has been said, we only pass this way once. Why speed through the journey when it is the journey itself that makes up the full worth of our lives?

------- Please let me know your reactions to these columns as I would enjoy hearing what bugs you, too. You can reach me at nancy@nancyrechtman.com ------- Read more Inanities columns at http://nancyrechtman.com/columns.php ------- Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved. ------- To unsubscribe, e-mail webmaster@nancyrechtman.com

Please let me know your reactions to these columns as I would enjoy hearing what bugs you, too. You can reach me at nancy@nancyrechtman.com.


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Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved. Small excerpts of the column may be republished as long as appropriate credit is given. To request permission to publish larger portions or the entire column, e-mail nancy@nancyrechtman.com.