Sunday, January 2, 2011

Father Time

Father Time is not always a hard parent, and, though he tarries for none of his children, often lays his hand lightly upon those who have used him well; making them old men and women inexorably enough, but leaving their hearts and spirits young and in full vigour.  With such people the grey head is but the impression of the old fellow's hand in giving them his blessing, and every wrinkle but a notch in the quiet calendar of a well-spent life.  --Charles Dickens--

It has come to that time of year again...when the passage of time hits me square in the eye.  For some, it is the birthday that reminds them of their mortality; for me, it is the changing of the calendar year.  And each year it affects me more and more. Was that a tear I felt welling in the corner of my eye as they began to sing Auld Lang Syne?   I am guessing that that is because as I grow older,  time seems to have picked up speed and is moving on faster than I can keep up with.   Yet, even as the pages on the calendar turn, I am reminded of all the years that  I have been blessed to be here on Earth.  

Alas,  as much as we may try to fight it,  Father Time stands still for no one.  And, despite having the ability  take years off our face with plastic surgery,  within, we remain that same person who was born 50, 60, 70 years ago. While we may fool the outside world, we can never fool ourselves for although there are are many things in our lives that we can run away from--responsibility, family, friends, home - we can never run away from Father Time.  He will always catch us and provide us the most humbling of life's lessons as he marches on...taking us with him as he moves from the past to the present. 

Ironically, we are born striving and eager to grow older.  When I was 5 or 6, I couldn't wait to be 10 because that meant I could go to bed later, and do  you remember when you were 15 or 16?  If you were like me,  you could not wait until you turned  21, an adult, yet, although by law we were  considered an adult, many of us were not ready for the challenge and responsibility that came with it; we still thought that someone should take care of us.  But, with age comes the desire to  experience  new things, to learn and to grow, so we set goals for ourselves;  sometimes we achieve them, other times we do not.  And then, one day when time has crept on you,  you begin to notice other people your age are accomplishing things you always said you would have now. 

I'm not sure at what point, if ever,  one makes the transition from growing up to growing old,  but one day we reach a point that birthdays don't seem to be as  much fun as they once were...and some of us believe that if we ignore them, Father Time  will give us a free pass, but, alas, time marches on and  the responsibilities of going off to work and paying the bills  are a constant reminder that we have, indeed,  finally grown up....and we wonder where all the time has gone   We begin to judge our lives by what we have done and what is left undone.  We watch as our grandparents start to fade and our parents begin to age, and their mortality strikes at our hearts.   Perhaps this might have been  the very first time that we were forced to acknowledge  that nothing in the world is infinite, that everything moves on.  Time stops for no man, and there is a season for all... 

...and even though we may still look young for our age, we cannot help but notice the physical changes that occur with aging. I can no longer do so easily what I did when I was young, and when I look into the mirror, I see  laugh lines and wrinkles, and those pesky gray hairs  that even coloring will not cover anymore.   My hearing has somewhat diminished somewhat and sometimes I ask others to repeat,  and I am finding  that for the first time in my life I need glasses to read.   Arthritis has become my latest companion, and as I walk down the street, I watch as others now pass me by just as I  once passed by others.  And, oh my gosh, those frequent trips to the bathroom that have become a way of life.   And sometimes, just for a fleeting moment, I find myself wishing  if only I were 15 or 16 again.    

But, all is not so bad, and growing old is not to be feared for when we begin to face our own mortality, we begin to change the way we look at the world as a whole.  For example, we realize that it is time to complete those unfinished tasks or strive to complete our goals..... a time to repair any damage to family relationships and to cherish what we have... and a time to embrace peace in all things. We begin to realize life is far too short to live in strife or turmoil, and we set out to make amends with those we may have hurt. If we are a spiritual person, we realize that obtaining material things are really not the most important thing in life, and we strive to deepen our prayer life and strengthen our relationship with God or the Goddess....whichever path we have chosen.

Growing old is a point in time, a phase, a chapter at the end of a journey that began long ago. Yes, the Winter of our life is inevitable as Father Time marches on, yet, we can choose to grow older, but not yet to grow matter what the darned calendar may be saying.  In March I will be 64, and I choose to grow old in my own time and my own way...and do so as gracefully as I possibly can.  Aging is an ongoing starts the day we are born.  It cannot be stopped, so why waste precious time fearing and fighting against it...making yourself unhappy.  At 50, I fought growing old tooth and nail, yet each time I looked in the mirror, Father Time was looking back at me.  I was such a miserable person.  Then,  came the day that  I gave up the battle and accepted that my youth had gone and that a new phase of life had begun...and it felt good to finally be free.

 Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years.
People grow old only by deserting their ideals.
Years may wrinkle the skin,
but to give up interest wrinkles the soul.
--Douglas MacArthur--


  1. Age is truely a state of mind. I learned that from my grandmother. She stayed young at heart into her nineties. X.

  2. Well Mary, you've said a mouthful this morning! How Ironic that you brought Father Time to the forefront I am putting away all Christmas decorations my hands paused on the wooden doll I have of Old St. Nick...he looks so much like Father Time I've almost decided to leave it out...a gentle reminder to love and live life to the fullest in each and every moment. As for body issues, well, I've come to the point where I don't cover up grey hairs as I think they hold beauty and I where what brings me comfort, not to fit in with the social norm, etc...(although to be honest I've always been that way). I could give a hang what others think about my appearance as long as I am comfortable in my own skin. Yes, my body moves much slower than it used to but even in this, the trade off is I 'see' more, 'hear' more and experience more than when I was young. I know you do too. I have a birthday on January 20th and I will embrace whatever the day may bring.
    Walking with you hand in hand Sister!
    I hope you enjoy your day off before meeting your work week again tomorrow!
    Blessings and Much Love!

  3. I loved this post today on said it all so very well....I, too, am 64 and will be 65 next birthday......MEDICARE you say.......BRING IT ON!!!!!(O:(O:(O:

  4. Lovely and wise. Thank you, Mary.

    Gentle Winter hugs,
    from someone who is facing 74, this coming March. See how much younger you feel, already? :-)

  5. a lovely, wise post Mary! I love the words at the beginning.
    I am now 53 - the year begins with my birthday.. and I find myself thinking of aging.. it does not bother me much, just sometimes those little niggling things physical and emotiona.. but your words helped :) xo