Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping…

Remember summer holidays as a kid? Hours, days and weeks stretched off and off into the future, never-ending and filled with boredom.

Mt Martha Beach | Midlife Tribe

Mt Martha beach – where time stood still.

Our family lived close to the beach, so plenty of time was spent there, depending on the availability and patience of parents to drive us down and back. After swimming for a couple of hours, we'd come home with an Orange Frosty or Lemonade Icy-Pole, our skin crusty with sand and sea salt, complaining about the hot car and scalding seatbelts.

On days when our parents couldn't take us to the beach, we'd run under the sprinkler or throw buckets of water over each other. This usually ended in tears.

It seemed like summer would never end and we'd never see our school friends again.

Family holidays would start at the hairy crack of pre-dawn, bundled into the back seat of an old 2-door Mazda 1300, along with sleeping bags, pillows and blankets for the long dark drive to Lakes Entrance or Wilsons Promontory. We would fall back asleep and then wake with a start at somewhere later in the journey.

Summer days | Midlife Tribe

Me, my sister and my awesome dad.

On arriving, we'd pitch the tent and take off for the beach. Those days stretched on forever, but in a happy and relaxed way. Dad would cook dinner over the gas cooker, mum would do a little handwashing of necessary undies and t-shirts, and we'd slap at the mosquitoes on our arms and legs as twilight fell and we nodded off to sleep again.

School days were both long and short. Playtime with our friends always evaporated, with the school bell summoning us back to desks and elbow nudging with our desk partner.

Spelling and maths tests went on forever, the second hand of the clock moving begrudgingly to the next notch. The hometime bell was the slowest of all, as every child stared at the clock, willing it to fall to 3.30 pm so we could escape for home on bus or foot.

Fast forward to Grownup Land and time is still playing tricks on us. Depending on your workload, the working day can drag or disappear. My last job had long periods of nothingness, and I would sit for hours staring out the glass door at passers-by on the main street.

There'd be frenzied activity twice a day when I had to do the banking and the mail, but apart from that, I spent my time tidying my desk, staring into space or answering the occasional call. My current job is much better for timekeeping as it rushes along and runs out altogether.

I work four days a week, Wednesdays off for good behaviour, and I've gotten into a marvellous relaxed rhythm for the passing of days. I work two days flat out, then have a mini weekend. I take that time seriously, starting with a sleep-in, then a substantial, relaxed breakfast before either heading out for the day or staying in to clean and quilt.

Thursday heralds two more hectic days before the big weekend arrives and I go into relax mode again.

Time is precious, whether it passes fast or slow. Time with your family and friends is time well spent. Time spent worrying about what may never happen is time wasted.

Many years ago, I knew a couple who worked all the hours they could find, saving and planning for a round-Australia boat trip with the family. They put off mini breaks and family time to fulfil a long-term goal. But over time, they grew apart, their internal goals changed and before the magic ten-year plan was up, they had split.

They simply ran out of time.

It's a beautiful idea to have long-term goals, to plan ahead and work towards them. But doing so at the expense of the Here and Now is a dangerous expedition.

If the focus of your life is too narrow and long-term, you could miss the myriad little happinesses along the way. Time at the beach with the kids, a picnic in the park, an in-house movie night with the family and microwaved popcorn. Bedtime stories with the little ones before lights out.

Time will always be fluid. Sometimes it will drag its feet and other times, it will fly so fast you cannot grasp it. But you decide how you spend your time to enrich your life and the lives of those you love.

Don't let it slip through your fingers lest it runs out before you expect. Because it almost certainly will.

Karin Lederer (my awesome sister)

Midlife Lessons

  • Savour every moment. You don't know when the curtain will go up on this life.
  • Acknowledge those who make your life special. They need to hear it now.
  • Don't begrudge situations when time drags on – they're all part of your story.
  • Seek out experiences more than things.

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