Living Between the Lines,  Tidbits - the written word

In the blink of an eye…

I was thinking the other day, how fast time goes. Now, when my mind moves in this particular direction, it normally flies ahead showing me how little time we have left. I then take a backward look and pull myself up sharply telling myself to ‘stop right there, enjoy today’, there would be no point to life if we did not stop to experience it.

The far wiser me, knows that we truly do arrive everywhere in a blink of an eye. When my first daughter was born, I remember gazing at her tiny form and wondering at the fact that one day she would be eighteen, I would be 42 and I would remember this moment and think,

“That all happened in the blink of an eye.”

My 24-year-old self was fully aware that it is dangerous to pinpoint the future like this. Indeed, when my daughter turned eighteen, I remembered that long ago moment and I did think –“That all happened in the blink of an eye.”

Since that moment, I have tried not to look ahead too far for fear that the moment I am seeking will appear to have arrived before I have even begun to experience the years in between. Is that ridiculous?

This particular form of mental time-travel that I have been prone to practise, works better within a smaller timescale. It comes in very handy if one is at the dentist or doing anything that is particularly distasteful. Hence, as I sit in that dentist’s chair undergoing whatever treatment I have been called in for, I pinpoint the moment when I will be back at home or in the office, a time when this experience will be firmly in the past. I tell myself that ‘in the blink of an eye’ I will be there.

It really works. As my mind hovers over that delicious thought, the treatment passes and lo and behold I am sitting at home or in the office and the dentist is a distant memory.

I used this technique during some particularly gruelling exams and even for my driving test though to be fair, I did need to concentrate more for the latter. The same principle applied when I was in labour – I’d pinpoint a time in the future where I was sitting holding my baby, all the hard work done and the pleasure beginning. I cannot say I sailed through labour without feeling any pain or without needing the odd gulp of gas and air. I can say that I was amazed on each occasion to find the future point in time, that I had identified, had indeed arrived ‘in the blink of an eye’.

Now, you will be saying that of course, exams and tests and even labour takes longer than that and all I was doing was shutting out the present, going on auto-pilot perhaps (possibly not good on a driving test) and only allowing myself to come back to full consciousness afterwards. Is this a form of meditation then? A trick of the subconscious to banish nerves?

An out-of-body experience, would presumably have the same effect and I admit to having had experienced this as well (another story) so the meditation idea seems to fit.

Whatever it is, the trick should be used with caution however. It can be detrimental to the present. I remember thinking whilst on holiday that although I was sitting in the sun, enjoying a leisurely break, I would be sitting in my own living room remembering this, almost before I knew it. Not wanting the holiday to rush by, I had to give myself a stern talking to and banish such thoughts at source.

Quite a few years have passed since my daughter’s eighteenth birthday and like most people, we have had good times and bad. Throughout, I have tried to remain in the present rather than hurry them along. It is a hard habit to break though and perhaps I do it without thinking.  Housework is easier when you look back on it from that future spot and that function you dread is easier to get through from the vantage point of a few hours hence.

Before I start wondering what life will be like when I am truly ‘old’ though, I shall pause. I will stop myself because I’d rather not arrive at the end ‘in the blink of an eye’ I would like to enjoy the journey.

One for the road perhaps – ‘In the blink of an eye’ I will have finished writing another novel – I see myself sitting, holding the published book in my hand and reading the tons of fan-mail that has poured in…

Now I don’t mind that one…I’ll let you know when it arrives!

I am an Author, wife to one, mother to five and grandmother to six. I live in the English countryside in Hampshire, UK, with my husband and two dogs and am a non exec Director for Glow


  • Martha Mawson

    I love this post. I do that too, when the present is too much and I wish to think of that moment when the present is a a memory. I did that when we were packing up to move back to the UK. I am doing that now as our present circumstances are very much up in the air. But I, too, know the importance of holding onto to the present and enjoying it for what it is – that moment of sun on the water, a small child’s infection laugh… It does all go by so quickly.

  • Katie Gates

    What a wonderful post, Debbie. I agree that, in certain instances, your technique is a good form of meditation. But when the moment is great — e.g., sitting in the Sun while on vacation — no reason at all to fast-forward! Similarly, no reason to f-f to old age!

  • Deb

    What a thoughtful and thought-provoking post. I find myself, in those moments like vacation, or the rare times the sun shines here these days, holding on to each second and somehow that helps. Because it really feels to me like time goes faster and faster by, and I’m not ready to be at the end yet.

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