In a recent conversation on Sixty and Me, I enjoyed chatting about memory markers. These are memories that lodge in our minds when we have a new experience and also have the ability to ‘slow down time.’ It started me thinking.

What Is Time?

It is physics that explicitly studies time, but even physicists agree that time is one of the most difficult properties of our universe to understand. Time is usually defined by its measurement; by the hands on the clock.

Albert Einstein said that time was an illusion. My husband designs and builds the most beautiful time pieces, so it is hard for me to accept that idea. Intellectually though, I understand that it is a man-made concept based on the movement of the planets and the rotation of the Earth.

I see time ahead of me as gas – floating this way and that – which, as it passes through me, becomes liquid that can be used one way or another. Once behind me, it freezes into immobility. I have the split second of the present to make a difference, how exciting is that?

We all know that when we are absorbed in doing something we love time appears to fly by unnoticed. On the other hand, when sitting in the dentist’s waiting room, listening to the whine of the drill, time seems to drag past slowly.

Time in dreams is unlike time when we are awake, so the brain appears to be selective in the way it deals with time.

What Does Time Mean to You?

As I grow older, time takes on a new significance. When I was young, there was always time in the future to do something: when the kids leave home, when I retire… Now time has a visible end point – my kids have left home, and I have retired – so I need to consider carefully what I do with it.

I was interested, when browsing in a bookshop the other day, to hear a grey-haired customer say, “I am very choosy what I read these days. I haven’t got time to read everything I come across anymore.”

How Do You Use Your Time?

It is vital to make time to do the things that are important to us as we move into our 60s, 70s and 80s; to use our time in a way that brings us pleasure and happiness. I choose to bring happiness and pleasure to others through the things that I enjoy.

I love pond-dipping with the grandchildren. I adopted a three-legged one-eyed Romanian dog and introduced her to the residents of our old folks’ hotel. And I like sharing my world through words.

One thing I have learnt from my Buddhist friends is to live in the present, to experience the moment and so change the future. I’m learning not to waste time dredging up the past or dreaming about what might happen.

I am learning to live in the moment and enjoy it even if lunch is a little late. I am focused not so much on multitasking as mindfulness.

Time is free – but it is priceless

You can’t own it – but you can use it

You can’t keep it – but you can spend it

Once you have lost it – you can never get it back.

Harvey Mackay

Time runs on relentlessly. Life comes and goes. But if you can keep that golden thread of love running through it, to pass on to the next generation, you will have made that difference.

I would love to hear what you think about time. How do you choose to use your time? How is the thread of love woven into your existence? Please join the conversation below!

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