I think it is traditional that when one starts a new decade in one’s life you are meant to mourn the passage of time and perhaps get a existential crisis of some sort. I think the occasion of turning 40 is particularly susceptible to causing a mid life crisis.
Well, I am pleased to say that I am having no such crisis despite having had my 40th birthday a week ago. Perhaps my illness has used up the quota available for crises for several years to come, that may well be true. Certainly in the scheme of things, growing old(er) is the least of my worries.
But another reason could be that in my mind at least, I am not 40 yet – rather I feel I am in my mid 30’s at the moment (perhaps 37 at most). And I think that’s because I was 36 when I became ill with ME and since then not very much has happened, so it just doesn’t feel like four years could have passed. And yet, it feels like a very long time. I think my sense of time has started moving in a completely different pace compared to the rest of the world.
When activities are measured in minutes rather than hours, with long breaks of no activity in between, time appears to move in very odd ways, it seems to stretch and contract like an elastic band. Sometimes your day’s main activity can be over in a few minutes, like at the time when I could garden for 3 minutes per day. And at other times even seemingly trivial activities can take a whole day. If you break down an activity into tiny chunks and take long breaks in between, then just emptying the dishwasher can take a whole afternoon. “So what did you do today?” “I emptied the dishwasher”. Or “I hung a load of washing”. And it really feels like a major achievement.
Whereas other people complain about time rushing past, my time is moving at a snail pace. That’s not a complaint, it is just an observation. And it’s not because I am bored either, it is just that I have so much time every day that my sense of time has slowed right down. There’s just more of it. And in this busy age that’s not an entirely bad thing.