The Past

I tend not to dwell in the past. Once something has happened, the waveform has collapsed and it’s no longer able to be influenced by anything I do. As a result, I usually treat any event that’s happened in the past as simply background – the boundary conditions of my current universe. It sets the stage, but I have no more emotional investment in something that happened to me yesterday than I do to the events of World War One.

A strange consequence of this that I’m noticing lately is that I have a terrible concept of how long ago something happened. I’m responding to emails today (the standard Monday excavation) and as I’m responding, I’m starting to feel guilty for how long it’s taken me to get to something, when I realize that this email came in at 8 PM on Friday and wasn’t urgent. Very little actual time has passed and I’m nowhere near “feel guilty” territory, but it feels like forever ago. Events that happened last week feel like the distant past to me.

The future is the opposite to me. It feels like every event in my future is going to happen five minutes from now, all the time. Then once they happen, they happened ten years ago. It’s like the Doppler effect but for time instead of sound.

Despite being the kind of kid who stretches her festivities out for several weeks, today is the actual day of my oldest daughter’s birth. On this day, eight years ago, I became a father for the first time. I know most parents say something like “it feels like only yesterday, it flew by,” but that’s honestly not how I feel. It feels like a million years ago – so far back I can barely remember it, and certainly can’t remember a time before it. The hiking trip we took to celebrate this birthday, which we took the weekend before last, already feels like a decade ago.

But you know that sensation you get when you’re late for something? The sort of panicky, anxious energy you get where you start to rush small details and review your mental checklists of everything you needed to do before a particular event? I feel like I’m already doing that for her high school graduation, her wedding day, the ribbon-cutting at her company. Like they’re just around the corner.

I can hardly wait. At least I won’t have to for long.

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