Tolkien, Time, and Why Does It Go So Fast?

Posted on January 23, 2013 by

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring

Observatories always have scared me a little bit.  I’m not sure why, other than my extreme childhood motion sickness that kicked in every time the stars and planets swirled around overhead.  I much prefer the real thing.  Laying on my back on a wooden dock, looking up at the meteor shower, or watching the sunset from my upstairs window, or witnessing the dawn over the ridge of the Sierras creates much more meaning than seeing the entire universe spin before my eyes.

It’s all about time, though.  Stretching my brain big enough to encompass the billions and billions of years our solar system has existed simply exhausts and terrifies me.  I was born in the 60s, a time of revolution. A time of possibility.  A time of purpose.

So today, in the 21st century, how is it that the exact same number of seconds, minutes and hours that every human has possessed, the precise amount of time, does not constantly fill me with possibility,  purpose. or revolution – instead of panic?

Live in the moment. Seize the day. Live every day like it is your last.

I’ve heard them all.  We are all busy, busy people. We all have a new day every 24 hours to use as we see fit.

So why is it that my day, which starts well before dawn, never seems long enough? Is that why I’m always running a e message in my mind?  Slow down, focus, be in the present, there will be time for that later…

I wish it was as simple as Tolkien said.

Nicaragua Lily and Cameron

I wish all I had to decide was what to do with the time that is given us.  I wish that such a simple decision wasn’t so complicated.

I’m great at it in the classroom. I maximize every single second. I don’t believe in wasting one minute of the 55 I get with my students each day.

When the school day ends, and I start my second job at home, I feel the same way.  The afternoons and evenings are jam packed with chores, homework, lessons, and a bit of reading, writing, cooking, and the occasional chess game.

Weekends- November to April are in the snow.

Summers? Travel, camps, gardening, and catching up on the neglected issues from the school year.

I wish every second I have could be frozen, duplicated, or held in my heart. I am acutely, painfully aware that the time with my daughter at home is rushing by. My son is on the cusp of all that is good and terrifying about adolescence.  It’s  not really as simple as Tolkien says.

I tick the hours by; days turn into weeks, then months. Then years.  Suddenly, it’s been nearly 18.

Time is more precious now than ever.

Someday soon, I will have more time than I can imagine.  Endless hours to decide what to do.

Just not who I want to spend it with.


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Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Comments: 4

  • Brenda

    January 23, 2013

    I think about this once in a blue moon, like now when I have time aplenty and if it wasn’t for the state of limbo I am in, I might be …. oh I don’t know, more productive?! I made a deal with myself about a year ago to stop living forward and to embrace the now. I’m not always successful, today for instance I wasted my day on useless thoughts for which there is not answer. My queue to do what I do, write and not wonder about who, when, and how. It’s another diversion but at least I have pages to show from my time. Wonderful post, btw (ignore my rambling).
    Brenda recently posted…Letter From My ChildhoodMy Profile

    • Jennifer Wolfe

      January 23, 2013

      Brenda, somehow I cannot imagine any of your thoughts as useless or a waste of a day…I love your decision to embrace the now. I’m learning that, too. And you can ramble on my blog any day! Love, Jennifer

  • elainepinkerton

    January 23, 2013

    Glad I took time to read your beautifully expressed reflections. At a more advanced age, and about to celebrate a birthday, I’ve decided to step around Tolkien’s thought on time. Even thinking about the time I have left practically paralizes me. I’m retired from being a school librarian and writing is my new fulltime profession. However, my resolution is to write for the joy of it, not to feel guilty about low productivity. I am still goal-oriented but it there is always another mountain to climb. Being in the moment rather than being a slave to my “plans.” Maybe this is one of the gifts of age.

    • Jennifer Wolfe

      January 23, 2013

      Elaine, I think you must be very wise, regardless of age. Writing for the joy-what else is there? I love your idea of stepping ‘around’ Tolkien’s thoughts on time…I have to say I agree. Thank you so much for taking the time to not only read my blog, but to respond so eloquently. With gratitude, Jennifer

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