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Times Flies Like the Wind. Fruit Flies Like Bananas

January 27, 2009

“Who is this?”

“It’s Chris. Your Grandson!”

He smiles. “I don’t know what the hell is going on.”

The statement would have been humorous. Well, it was slightly humorous the first two times. But the third time it became clear it was nothing more than a forlorn act of dementia. Worse than the muddling of his brain was the sad irony of his blindness. He had once made a living as a filmmaking and photographer, and now could hardly make out lights or shapes. At that moment, despite being a naturalist, I couldn’t help but detest Mother Nature for her cruel treatment of the old.

But I’m not so naïve as to believe that all instances in the passing of time are negative. Earlier this year I wrote how much I was enjoying getting older. As I get older I’ve become wiser, I’ve become closer to my friends and family, and while my career is still figuring itself out I’ve relished the journey thus far. I read a great quote the other day by Jonathan Swift, “No wise man ever wished to be younger.” But why to we become so attached to the past, and why do we become sad at the prospect of time passing? It’s the attachment to nostalgia. It’s the desire to keep things as they are, even though the only constant in life is change.

When we visit a place, see a friend, or take part in an activity we create a snapshot of that moment if incident in our mind. Whenever we recall that memory we will always go back to that impression. Being back in Taos reminded me of this fact more than anything (The one wonderful thing about having a paparazzi mother is having more than enough photographs to aid your memory). When I was home in December I had the chance to riffle through some old family albums. On the pages were old pictures of me ski racing down an icy hill, holding up my baby brother, and my old cat and dog snuggling together – clearly not aware of the age-old cat and dog feud. I could transport myself to that place and time. Recalling those moments and emotions, while simultaneously aware of the great change that had occurred. When we leave a place we don’t expect time to change. All we know is those snapshots we create, like those photos in the album. When we return we come to the sudden realization that time doesn’t stand still when we leave, and we’re forced to update those snap shots. But this is life.

Before the snow melted into the damp ground I took my dog for a walk in the woods. When I was a boy I knew our forest like the back of my hand. The slope of the hill, a patch of moss, or tree’s particular branch pattern were all I needed to orient myself. But this time its face was different. Between the ice storm damage and my father’s work clearing the woods my forest had completely changed. It saddened me to see old branches that I used to swing from as an infant broken from the tree and lying on the ground, waiting to fulfill their place in the circle of life. Yet at the same time it was reaffirming in a peculiar sense. If something as primordial as the forest is victim to change, then becomes clear that one has not other choice than to open their arms to father time and embrace him. For good or bad.

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