A New Pace

Things didn’t work out as planned yesterday. We were slow getting started. It took a bit longer to button up our house and load our camper. We have been trying to give ourselves the gift of a bit of leisure and not push quits so hard as we had been during the final three months or so of our full-time employment, so we didn’t worry, we just kept working till we were ready to roll.

Only we weren’t really ready to roll. Before we even got out of our subdivision, the dashboard display in the truck read “Trailer Wiring Fault.” I stopped, got out, played with the plug a bit, but couldn’t find the problem. We decided to head for Dakota Battery and Electric. They were able to schedule a repair for a week from today. That wasn’t soon enough to get us on the road when we wanted to go. I got on the phone. Big Tex might be able to work us in on Monday. Blake’s Trailers had three in front of us but would try to help us assess the problem. We ran by Blakes and it was clear we weren’t going to get on the road as planned.

I purchased a new cable from Blake’s and headed home. I was pretty sure that the cable itself wasn’t the problem, but it was a starting point in what might be a long process fo eliminating possible causes one by one. As we were driving home the dashboard display became more urgent: “Trailer Disconnected.” Obviously the trailer wasn’t disconnected, but it gave me a clue that the problem was a ground fault.

My multi meter and I went to work. By 3 pm the problem had been found and corrected. We decided to give it a road test just to be sure. It isn’t hard to find bumpy roads around here to shake things down, so we made a loop. Success! Everything was working properly.

It was only just then that I began to realize an important thing. We are retired. We don’t have to meet a schedule on the other end. We can delay a day without a problem. In our previous life, we probably would have started out at 4 pm. We might have stopped short of our day’s planned destination, but we might also have just pushed on into the wee hours. No such push is necessary. We notified our children and my sister of the change in plans, went for a nice walk, had a pleasant supper and caught up on a few things before showering and turning in early. Today is a new day and we’ll get an early start and will be able to take things at a slow pace.

Throughout the history of philosophy, great minds have invested a lot of energy speculating about the passage of time. It is easy to observe that one does not always perceive the passage of time in the same way. Sometimes it seems to be going quickly. At other times it seems to be going slowly. Scientists have tried to establish the passage of time as a fixed reality, something that can be measured. The passage of time is a directly observable fact. That worked for a while. Universal Time is a standard based on the earth’s rotation. The concept started as Greenwich Mean Time, starting at 0 degrees of latitude as a way of regulating train schedules. Prior to Greenwich Mean Time, each locality had its own clock, based on the observation of the sun’s highest point in the sky during the day. Greenwich and the Universal Time provided a standard for coordination of activities around the globe.

Of course we humans couldn’t leave well enough alone and introduced Daylight Savings Time to confuse things, though only a little bit.

The real wrench in the theory of time being an observable absolute came in the 20th century when the theory of relativity transformed theoretical physics and astronomy, superseding the 200-year-old theory of mechanics developed by Isaac Newton. The Einstein Theory of Relativity integrated observations of space and time into spacetime. The passage of time is not a fixed reality, but rather varies depending on the point of view from which it is observed. An object traveling experiences the passage of time at a different rate than another object traveling at a different pace in a different direction.

Humans knew this long before scientific theory caught up. Waiting for the weather to clear for a planned activity feels different than waiting for a baby to be born. The passage of time when one is engaged in recreation fees different than the passage of time when that same person is waiting for the return of a loved one. Different times have different qualities and how we perceive the passage of time depends on our circumstances.

So there is a different quality to retirement time from the time when we were working. If I don’t accomplish a task today, I can put it off to tomorrow in a way that simply wasn’t possible when tomorrow held so many new tasks. All of this is set in the simple context that I am much closer to the end of my life than was the case decades ago. The measurable amount of time that I have left is less than it was before. That shortness of time, however, doesn’t seem to have the same urgency that was once the case.

On June 15 I turned off my alarm. I woke the next morning at nearly the same time as before, but not with the precision of the clock. Today is my 4th day of operating with the clock off. I’m not really sleeping any more hours than before. I’m not sleeping in. I’m just a bit less regulated, a bit less precise in the minute of my climbing from bed. So far it has just been a few days. I feel like I’m on vacation. It will take a while for me to adjust.

This is a season of shifting the pace of my life. Time will tell how it goes.

Copyright (c) 2020 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!