Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Vernal Equinox & The Passing of Time

Well, it is just after midnight, a couple of minutes into a new day as we reckon time. Late yesterday was the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere, the beginning of spring and one of two days when the sun appears to be directly over the equator, giving us equal periods of daylight and darkness.

I am ready for spring, given the blizzards of December and January. Still, we will probably get some more snow during the months of March and April, as is typical in Colorado. Yet most days during these months are very pleasant. This week we have even exceeded the 70 degree Fahrenheit mark.

Despite the calendar, Spring starts further south and moves northward during this time of year. In Tulsa, this is the time of year the redbud trees are blooming along the banks of the wide and lazy stretch of the Arkansas River that passes through the city. In Charlotte, the dogwoods blooming add a beauty to the city, and in Washington, DC, the cherry blossoms will add their white and pink hues to the landscape of some of our most cherished national icons and monuments. Here in northern Colorado, the trees are still devoid of leaves, grass has not turned green, and in general Spring is slower to arrive. Even so, it won't be long until the new season brings a rebirth to the Front Range, as well as new photo opportunities of the Centennial State in bloom.

Personal challenges and financial disasters over the last few years have given me some days of gloom; even so, I cannot yet give up on enjoying the things life has to enjoy. Given even a life extending to old age, we are afforded all too few equinoxes, solstices, and times with those we love. Distance and time rob us of so many opportunities. It seems that life has been set on warp speed and there are no brakes to slow things down.

I have a theory about that. It seems to me that the years appear to be shorter and shorter as time goes on. My idea is that our perception of our lives is a set psychological block of time. No matter how many actual years our memories hold, the totality never perceptually changes. As we gain more years behind us, each year is a smaller percentage of this total life perception. Thus the years seem much shorter. Remember as a child how the passing of a single year seemingly took forever? Well, at 5 years old, one year is 20% of our life! At 50 it is only 2%. Hence, the perceived compression of time.

I have no facts to base my theory upon, yet it makes perfect sense to me.

Make a promise to yourself. Enjoy the Springtime, enjoy life, and don't give or sell your entire existence to any company or endeavor. Life is finite and limited; thus each day is very precious. We should do our best to make the most of every moment. None of us know how many ticks of the clock we have left.

I am reminded of the poem by John Donne, For Whom The Bell Tolls:
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

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