Posted by: joha5 | September 9, 2010

Where Does Summer Actually Go?

I always thought that adults were kidding – or crazy – when they told me how fast time actually flies.  It was clear that this fleeting passage of time was a symptom of getting older and I was absolutely convinced that it would never happen to me.  Time is equitable for all people so why it would go by faster for adults and slower for kids was just totally beyond me…

…until this summer.

At this very moment I am sitting back in the front of a classroom surrounded by students roaming the halls and classrooms on their first full day of school.  Wasn’t it just 10 or 11 weeks ago that I was just here?  What have I accomplished in that time?  Has anything changed during that period?  How did I get back here? 

Summer break always seems to last eons when I was growing up.  Even when I was in college summer seemed to extend its reach from the late spring into the early autumn.  But this year it just all seems different.  The time period is the same but the feeling of the ‘everlasting summer’ just isn’t there.  This is especially strange considering that this has been one of the most enjoyable, fun, busy, and productive summers I have had since graduating from college.  How come I have had the time of my life this summer yet if I had the exact same experience – say 10 years ago – it would feel like summer last so much longer?

Where for art thou, summer?!

Well, the first reason is probably because I have more perspective than I did 5, 10, or 15 years ago and the context of time continually transforms itself.  I know this sounds relatively superfluous but think about it logistically.  When you were 5 years old, getting older by another year meant 20% of your life.  That is a huge chuck of your life.  20% of my life as it stands now is 5 and a half years.  Just imagine when you are 80.  20% of your life will be 16 years.  Mathematical calculations aside, it is no wonder why time seems to go so slow when you are young and the world is new and you are learning and taking everything in around you.

Another reason why things seem to go so quick is because we all have much more to think about when we get older.  That is not to say that we don’t have lots to learn or think about when we are younger but it is to say that the premise is different.  I like to think I learn something new everyday – and I probably do even if it is just a benign piece of information – but do you remember what it was like to go to school and constantly be challenged in different classes and in different ways?  Simply put, I don’t have those kinds of challenges anymore.  My days are spent thinking about how to get through work and what works best for me, when my next doctor’s appointment is, how am I going to pay the bills this month, how much will I get on my 2011 tax return, can I afford a better medical insurance plan, will the GOP take over the House and the Senate this November, etc.  There is still a lot of thinking that goes on but none of it is really new information.  It is all just learning how to juggle and balance information that already exists.  Thankfully, I didn’t have these worries when I was younger or else I might have grown up a little too fast. 

Needless to say, they are here now and I probably spend an inordinate time thinking about things that don’t really matter all that much.  Have you ever spent a day at work with nothing to do or nothing to occupy your thoughts?  And have you realized just how long and slow the day goes when that happens?  I thought so. 

Theoretically speaking of course, it doesn’t actually matter what time feels like.  It just matters what we do with it.  This summer might have felt fleeting but when I look back and see all of the fun things that I have done – camping, swimming, a trip to Chicago, amusement parks, teaching, job hunting, tanning, hiking, barbeques, baseball and soccer games, quality time with friends and family, relaxing in the sun, afternoon beers in the backyard – I can take some solace in the fact that even though summer may be gone and it may have felt quick, I will always have the knowledge and experiential memory that – fast or slow – I filled up the summer of 2010 with the best activities I possibly could have.

Summer will be missed.



  1. The upside is that there will be less and less time between World Cups.

    • The downside is that the US will never win one in our lifetime. At least we can dream for 4 years at a time…

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