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Living the Relativity of Time

When I was young, I married someone 15 years older than I was. (That’s 1.5 decades, sounds different using those words.) We had some great adventures packed into just under 10 years. Had we stayed together, by now we’d have been together 4 decades.

So much has happened in those 40 years. It’s a jumble of adventures flowing in the river of time. Now and then, pieces of memories jump up from the surface like a bright, shiny, rainbow trout arching out of the water. And now, I remember learning to fish from my grandparents.

They bought me my first and only fishing pole. They took me to the sandpit outside of town. Was that bright blue pit of water stocked with fish or somehow still connected to the river? Years later in high school, we headed out to the sandpit on a Friday night after dragging 10th and Main for a few hours. (Ah the days of cheap, cheap gas!)

I remember
floating on my back
hands with fingers locked behind my head
long hair floating around my head
legs bent at the knees
feet pedaling softly as if I was riding a bike
gently cycling around the surface
looking at the black velvet sky
no electric lights in sight
sounds muffled by the water
knowing my friends were on the shore

I don’t remember swimming to shore, getting dry? We didn’t plan this adventure so didn’t have towels. I don’t know who was driving that night, who else was there, which sandpit we went to (there were many around my town by the river), or anything about going home – just the dark sky, the deep quiet of floating and pedaling with my ears underwater. It felt as if I’d always been there and always would be. And am I? Still there? Since I can visit that slice of memory as if it is right now?

Does four score and seven years sound like less or more than 87 years? Four decades since I first married or 40 years? Does bundling the years into decades make the days that filled them more or less memorable? Does it make the time from beginning to now seem shorter or longer?

My great aunt lived to be 98. When she reached 90 she said, “Ninety is no age for a lady.” Her sister was born in 1898 and lived across a century change. I always felt my great aunt who was born in 1902 wanted to live across one, also. She’s been gone 22 years. I’m the age she was when I was 10 – how is it possible that I’ve traveled through all these days, months, years, decades, and scores?

When I was little I always knew I would get old, even older than I am now. I just had no idea how it would happen – hours flowing into days, into weeks, months, years, decades, and scores. Hours spent in studios learning dance technique, spent in rehearsal, spent performing, teaching the joy of being in the moment.

And now, I see how I got older without noticing it. Being present one moment at a time, this one now, and this one, each one right here right now. When, momentarily, I look back, there is a river of nows filled with wonderful and frightening, awesome and sad now moments all flowing together into a ribbon of what I call time passing.

What are your thoughts about time, memory, and now?

I’d love to know, send me a message.

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Laura Donnelly
Laura Donnellyhttps://dancingwithease.com/
Laura Donnelly is a teacher, mentor, choreographer, dancer, writer, and founder of Dancing with Ease. She teaches Body-Brain-Business Balance online and in person. The work is based on Laura's 35 plus years as a performer and teacher of the Alexander Technique, Somatics, Movement Fundamentals™, and business management. Working with individuals Laura supports people to reduce stress, eliminate overwhelm, and discover their “right effort” to achieve dynamic balance in all activities. Applying this work to business creation and development allows business owners to create businesses that fit them, their energies, their ideal workflows, and specific time commitments. This organic process uses “right effort” which ensures that the business that emerges fits the owner/founder like a fine leather glove. Starting from a foundation based on personal wellbeing and organic growth insures that the business supports awareness and personal growth while bringing financial success and joy. Laura has an MFA in Theatre Arts/Dance from the University of Arizona. She completed masters coursework in Business Management at the University of Phoenix and Six Sigma training at the request of the Provost at the University of Arizona. She has consulted on numerous small business enterprises for medical doctors, fertility specialists, architects, locksmiths, home inspectors, and realtors. She has provided grant writing and management services and administrative process improvement for academic departments and arts organizations. She toured throughout the U.S. and Europe as a professional dancer performing ballet, modern and historical dance. Her choreography has been performed in the U.S. and Europe. She teaches, writes, and photographs the world around her.

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11 CONVERSATIONS

  1. Oh, Laura – I smiled when reading your article this morning 💞 My morning meditation included this same concept of time’s relativity. 😉Here’s a sampling: “Have you ever considered the FABRIC OF THE MOMENT ~ the fullness of each moment manifesting in a continuum of experiences and choices? Our ‘fabric’ is the fullness of who we are – created from all of our ‘threads’ of experiences, beliefs, dreams, perceptions, fears, joys, etc. – PLUS, our ancestral line – all present within every moment – consciously, and mostly unconsciously, influencing our perceptions, beliefs, feelings and choices…”

    Yes, “Being present one moment at a time, this one now, and this one, each one right here right now. When, momentarily, I look back, there is a river of nows filled with wonderful and frightening, awesome and sad now moments all flowing together into a ribbon of what I call time passing.” … is a beautiful fabric that flows through eternity. Thank you for sharing 🙏

  2. What a lovely piece and a joyful memory, Laura.

    I think these past couple of years have made time a totally new experience. The hours can be long and the weeks are gone in a flash. When did we do what? – it must have been before the pandemic but so few event hooks to hang those years up in our memory.
    Do the event hooks fasten in our memory the same way when we don’t just experience but have to take a picture for posterity? And if not as aid for our own memory, why do we take the pictures?

    • Memory is a funny thing isn’t it, Charlotte? I’m glad you enjoyed it. I find memories when I write. They just unspoole one to the next, not logically – like fishing in the sandpit to swimming in it 10+ years later. If I go looking for them they don’t arrive so poetically 🙂

      Yes, I find the past 2 years have interrupted the time sequencing in my memories (and is time sequencing in memories even really a thing?) I think we sometimes use photos to make a time line for our memories. Right now I have several years of photos on my phone. I was “sure” my Resurrection Lilies came up early this year, but looking back at the photos (thank heavens they are automatically dated!) I found they sprouted out of the ground on the same day last year!

  3. I often refect myself back into time even though I do try to live in the moment these days. But times past is like a gift at Christmas. Those special times (gifts) we remember. I was also married to a man 20 years my senior. But for me time was lost. Not a good marriage. I feel as if my youth was stolen from me. Time lost. My memory is not the best either. Many lost memories of my chidhood as well. I love reading others memories as I can claim some of my own. Its like a Ahh hahh moment. Loved your article

    • Great to meet you, Eva! I wrote to Charlotte above: I find memories when I write. They just unspoole one to the next, not logically – like fishing in the sandpit to swimming in it 10+ years later. If I go looking for them they don’t arrive so poetically 🙂

      Reading memories also sometimes like you said awakens memories. There are passages in Marilynne Robinson’s books set in Iowa, descriptions of light and sound that bring back memories of my midwest childhood summer days.

  4. Oh, I so enjoyed reading this essay about time, memories, now-how our minds can time travel to the past-imagine possible futures, then return to the very exquisite this moment right now-which for me happens to be exquisite as I look out at all the trees-green leaves, lush, plants, flowers, butterflies flitting on the breezes-wisps of yellow, black. A few moments ago spotted a black bear out the side door of our home-a mama with two tiny babies. Felt like time stood still inside of me as I stared in wonder, awe at these beautiful creatures only feet away from me here on Magical Mountain. I loved your description of being in the water, of time being a flashing fish leaping out of the water-. Time seems to be a perception thing-an experience thing-like it’s not even real in some ways —only our point of view as we experience our lives in scenes, in slivers, in presence. The Witness Self always with us -and in my case-seems to have a camcorder-or whatever today’s video camera is–recording the multiple sensations all at once-3D-to be accessed-if desired-at a later moment-to anchor joy, love, and the bittersweet beauty of a life thoroughly relished. Thank you so much, Laura!

    • “Time seems to be a perception thing-an experience thing-like it’s not even real in some ways —only our point of view as we experience our lives in scenes, in slivers, in presence.” I agree with what you say, Laura, and I don’t think time isn’t real in many ways. It is some kind of construct that we to have agreed upon so we can meet at a specific “time” in a specific place. But in terms of the “real” things that are important to me, many of the slivers of memory are sharp and clear as if they happened just a moment ago. And then other things, well they are lost in the dim and distant past.

  5. Hi Laura,

    If memories are reflections of how we lived our lives then your reflections are the rainbow that you described “that emerges bright, shiny, rainbow trout arching out of the water”

    flowing in the river of time and flowing in rivers- the word flow is a reminder for me of what you said that same word mean diffrently to people and bring different flowing thoughts from them. This is how I feel.

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