A new school year is about to begin.
I have homeschooled our children for several years, but now, my two oldest are going off to school. I am left with just the two youngest. (One of whom I am still homeschooling.) This, however, got me thinking about time.
Where did it go?
It’s like the scooping of a handful of dirt and, against your will, each grain of sand slips through your fingers. Eventually, you are left with nothing but the memory of a handful of dirt.
This is time. Its passage is one of the saddest things mankind has to endure. As it rushes by, memories fade. The young become old, the old become gone, the strong become weak, and attachment becomes separation.
We are faced with the realization that our “heroes” are just as frail as we are. It only reinforces our own mortality. Everything around us screams it.
We’ve all faced the hard reality of time. When you return to the place you grew up and you see how it didn’t wait for you. Homes crumbled, people died, and fields have given birth to parking lots and shopping malls.
Time waits for no man.
This hits home all the more when you see how time moves on within your own family.
I see how my oldest daughter doesn’t “need” me as much as my youngest. Independence is taking root in her heart. While this is healthy, it doesn’t diminish the sadness it brings.
Now some people may say that this is just nostalgia speaking. I believe, however, this sadness stems from something deeper within us.
The longing for eternal life. It is the longing to never have to say goodbye. You see, every moment, for good or ill, can never be repeated. Once it is there, it is gone. Life is fleeting. I cannot get back what I’ve lost.
This is one of the the main reasons why we have chosen to stay home with our children - because time will not allow us a redo. What’s done is done. Regret comes when the decision has been made. I don’t want to regret sending them off before I really got to know them. I would rather have our family face financial struggle than face regret.
You see, time is far more powerful than man could ever hope to be. It marches us on toward death and separation. It cannot be reigned or controlled by human hands. We have to accept its consequences.
That is why I must cherish the sounds of my children playing together now. I must also cherish the sounds of them fighting. It means we are together; we are family.
School is about to separate them. It is the beginning of a life full of separation and rejoining. While it is is normal, it still brings sadness.
This is but a taste of time. We are swept up in its current and taken with it whether we want to or not.
But not all of it is doom and gloom. Time brings good things as well. We see the weak become strong, the sick become well, the lonely become loved. Families are made and life is given. Slavery is destroyed and freedom gained.
To accept what makes life worth living, we must accept the very thing that takes it away.
This is time. It waits for no man.
No amount of financial security can give me a memory I never made.
The only thing we can do to fight against it is to make memories - memories to cherish. So we can hold them up in defiance and say, “You may take my love and my life, but you can’t take my memories.” It is one of the reasons why dementia and Alzheimer’s is so heartbreaking. But even if a loved one faces those diseases, there is always someone there to say, “I will remember.”
It’s the most we can do. In fact, sometimes it is the only thing we can do.
I will remember homeschooling them. I will remember them playing together. I will remember eating lunch with my wife and children everyday - even if it is just peanut butter and jelly sandwich. No amount of working and money can bring that back to me if it is lost. No amount of financial security can give me a memory I never made.
That is why I will say, “I will remember.” Because I was there and I did it. For now, it is the one thing time cannot take away from me.
This song, by Gregory Alan Isakov, gives the essence of what the passage of time feels like.
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.