I grew up around the time that consumer video cameras were just becoming popular. Their advent, coupled with the fact that my dad ran a part-time videographer business from our home, resulted in nearly all of my momentous (and oftentimes non-momentous) childhood events being recorded for our later viewing pleasure.
Seemingly every waking moment of mine and my brother’s childhoods were archived in our collection of bulky VHS tapes, and once we became old enough to operate a VCR, we spent lot of time watching videos of ourselves at a younger age.
This “watching our younger selves on video” led to a lot of convolution with regards to my memories of childhood. I have a lot of childhood memories, but I couldn’t tell you if I am genuinely remembering them or if I’m just remembering the video-recordings of them.
One early memory that I do know is real, simply because it was a state of mind rather than an event, was how many endless possibilities there were in single summer day.
As a ten-year-old, leaving fourth grade and heading into fifth, I recall that my long-term goals always started and ended on the same day.
My friends and I would ride our bikes up and down our street, enjoy the dusk hour by playing kick the can. For whatever reason, we often partook in a perverse game that involved us baiting as many bees as we could, using sugar water, and then trying to kill as many of them as possible by spraying them with a mixture of vinegar, Windex and bleach (or something close to that), all while trying to avoid getting stung.
At ten years old, spray bottle in-hand, a day was forever.
But by the time I had graduated high school, my perception of forever had begun to expand. Just out of awkward adolescence, my interests had thankfully shifted from bee genocide (I do look back at my anti-apiaristic tendencies with regret) to music, something that was marginally more productive. In my late teens, my bandmates and I would tirelessly record our music on my desktop PC. Oftentimes, we would start a recording project on a Sunday and not finish it until the following Sunday. Our long-term plans started and ended with each song.
As I look back now, I can safely say that at 19 years old, with a guitar in-hand, a week was forever.
When my wife and I bought our first home, a half a decade after my music days, the reality of true adulthood was becoming increasingly clear. Working our day jobs Monday through Friday and commuting over an hour each way, our home renovation aspirations were always crunched into Saturdays and Sundays. Because of the rat race pace of the work week, home renovations and landscaping projects spanned many flips of the calendar.
Indeed, as a young homeowner, hammer-in-hand, months had become the most realistic measurement of time.
Now I’m a man in my mid-30s and time has changed yet again. With a daughter, small business and lofty goals as they relate to improving and managing our land, time has become stretched further than I ever thought possible. Instead of projects encompassing a day or a week, or even a month, years are the new metric. Goals now have footnotes like “in 2020” or “by the end of 2022,” and all the while my daughter, who is currently young enough to measure her long-term goals in minutes or hours at most, is seemingly growing up right before my very eyes.
As a middle-aged man, looking back on time as it was, I’ve found that two years is now a blip.
If any of us are lucky enough to make it into old age, I suspect we find that our aspirations follow a bell curve. At a certain point, the pendulum swings the other way, and our focus shifts back from years to months, and as we near the end of life, from months back to days.
And as any centenarian might wisely tell us, life indeed goes too fast.
Reminder: enjoy every minute of it.
Andre LaSalle is a Messenger contributer.