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  • Pamela S

Living in Fast Forward

Updated: Oct 29, 2020


How sad that the "rewind" and "fast-forward" metaphors no longer elicit the physical, tangible movement of a tape wound upon a spool. A few weeks ago, my husband and I were showing our grown daughter video tapes of her infancy. She was incredulous at how long it took to rewind the tape before watching. It took maybe three minutes, which was just about the length of time that she extolled upon digital advances. As we started watching the hours of footage of her doing just what babies do, I found myself holding down the fast-forward button to get to the next scene as she grew up warp speed. ("You have to hold the button down?" she asked, shaking her head once again.)


It seems that somebody somewhere is holding down the fast-forward button on 2020. I had heard that time moves faster as we get older, but this is too coincidental. Time was at its most perfect motion the first few weeks of gardening and quiet, when all the world was at a novel stand-still, waiting and watching. But since then, April-May-June-July-August-September-October whirls like a zoetrope heading into November. Is it possible that since this year has gotten such bad press, the collective desire of all peoples to have it be over is actually causing the earth to spin ever so slightly faster towards year's end?


Contemplating this speedy passage of time has gotten me thinking about how often I wish time went by faster. It's not that I wish that directly; rather, I wish more its indirect corollary of trying to get a task list done. I often think—no I often feel, it's more of a wordless feel—that I will be able to rest once all of my work is done. But it's never done. I don't work on discrete projects that have an end date after which I take two weeks off. I work with people, and the people keep coming, albeit thankfully so. I even take this get-er-done attitude home with me, knowing that I can rest once my house is clean once and for all. Or once I have finished reading all the books on my shelf. Or once I answer all the emails, or make all the calls, or run all the errands. Time flies as I am distracted in this way, always tugging at the future so I can be done and rest. No, these unending tasks are not the issue, this wordless feel is the problem.


My dear friend once told me long ago that there are two kinds of people in the world: task-oriented people and relationship-oriented people. She tagged herself as the latter, and me as the former, which I owned. So here I am, a task-oriented person in a relationship-driven field. It is true that I have learned and adapted, and I typically work well with people. But there is still the leftover to-do mentality in my psyche that does not conform to my relationship-oriented career. It bothers my peace, and my sense of accomplishment. It keeps me from pressing the stop button until the list is depleted. And the list is never depleted.


How does a relationship-oriented person derive satisfaction from accomplishment? Or do they? Perhaps they derive joy from the cycles inherent in everything, and from the diversity in change. Maybe their outlook is continuous instead of discrete, a verb instead of a noun. Maybe they are do needlepoint instead of cross-stitch, and never paint by number. I accept that I am a discrete noun that prefers cross-stitch, but that does not mean that a continuous verb cannot teach me something.


Perhaps balance is the key. The relationship person with no sense of task is incompetent. The task person with no people skills is aloof. Maybe I need to be the task person that I am, with the adequate people skills that I have learned, but just invent a discrete stop button to replace the elusive satisfaction of a completed task list. Perhaps that stop button is on a clock. "The clock says I am done for the day. Good job! This will all be here tomorrow." Or maybe it is on a calendar. "It is summer; time to take vacation even if I have no trip planned." Or maybe it is in a friend, in an intimate conversation while walking on the beach. Or maybe it lies with the divine, in quiet contemplation at a weekend retreat.


Or maybe it is sitting with my daughter watching a bygone time, listening to her grownup laugh at the same time as her baby laugh. If I could give advice to young parents, I would say of course your babies are cute, but your grown children will be far more interested in what you looked like and what you said, and how you interacted with them as infants. Turn the video on yourselves more often, to watch the relationship between you and your children grow. I wish I had. Maybe then I would not have to hold down the fast-forward button so much.

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wbaez
07 nov. 2020

As a mother of two, I enjoyed reading about your experience. I appreciate the advice and I will follow it. Thank you!

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