Living Inside Time

Recently, I’ve not been reading well. I’ve spent the past month or so avoiding novels that require concentration as I’ve had none to give. I know why I feel like this and I was half expecting it, although not to this extent. My son leaving home last month has made our family and home feel strange and lopsided. We’ve all been in shock, and are trying to regroup. All the redecorating I’ve done to distract me from brooding may have seen me through the worst of it, and it’s helped to know he’s settling in ok.

Books have been my refuge for as long as I can remember, so it’s been strange to feel cut off from them like this. Not being able to follow a thought from the start of a sentence to the end is baffling, and sitting still for more than a page has been really challenging. Not being able to stomach introspection, I’ve looked for escape and drama (there may have even been some swords, wolves and dare I say it, pointy shoes – ‘Game of Thrones’, I’m looking at you! )

Thankfully I think I’m through the worst of it. I woke up this morning hankering for Proust whom I’ve neglected of late, so I picked up ‘In the Shadow of Young Girls in Flower’ to remind myself where I’d got up to. This passage I’d underlined caught my eye.

though I met each new day with the thought that I was now on the threshold of life…not only had my life in fact begun, but the years to come would not be very different from the years already elapsed…. I did not live outside Time but was subject to its laws, as completely as the fictional characters whose lives, for that very reason, had made me feel so sad when I read of them at Combray….Theoretically we are aware that the earth is spinning, but in reality we do not notice it: the ground we walk on seems to be stationary and gives no cause for alarm. The same happens with Time. To make its passing perceptible, novelists have to turn the hands of the clock at dizzying speed, to make the reader live through ten, twenty, thirty years in two minutes….When my father said, ‘He’s not a child any more, he’s not going to change his mind, etc.,’ he suddenly showed me myself living inside Time; and he filled me with sadness.

It powerfully struck me that I have just experienced that exact shocking revelation of the passage of Time. Our son left, and suddenly, in a single moment, 18 years evaporated like smoke.