“How did it get so late so soon?” Dr. Seuss.
One of the things I remember getting really excited about as a young boy was that I was lucky enough to have been born at a time I’d be able to witness, for only the second time in human history, a turn of a millennium. Of course there had been plenty of “millennium turns” for as long as humans have been roaming the planet, but someone – a monk named Dionysius Exiguus to be exact – only came up with the idea of numbering the years in 525 A.D. (and even then he got the starting date wrong; it was meant to be the date of the birth of Christ but he was off by about four years). So 999 to 1000 and 1999 to 2000 are the sole two numerical “millennium turns” so far.
I can distantly remember thinking about this a lot as a boy. It just seemed incredible to contemplate that such a significant date was going to happen in my lifetime. What made it especially magical was that it seemed so far in the future. I calculated that I would be the ripe old age of 41 when 2000 finally arrived, thus proving myself to be as accurate as Dionysius Exiguus, as being born in 1959 I would actually be “only” 40.
Well, now look where we are. The turn of the millennium is almost a faded memory in itself. That young boy, who contemplated what life would be like when he was 40 (virtually the same except with more TV channels and computers) has long ceased to exist. The person I am today is in the midst of his fifth decade, and would love nothing more than a quick rewind to that “ripe old age” of 40 or 41.
So … where did those intervening years go? Sometimes it seems I went to sleep one night as a ten-year-old thinking about flying to the moon (and back) and awoke the next morning to find some of my hair had gone grey and I was still paying off this strange thing called a mortgage. What the heck happened? I’d also moved a few times, changed states, gained jobs, lost jobs, gained weight, lost weight, gained weight and finally arrived here, sitting in front of a laptop, typing this blog post.
My last remaining grandparent, who died in 1978, had warned me of this. “As you get older,” he said, “every day is exactly the same length as the previous one, and the next day will be exactly the same length as today. But the weeks, months, and years … they all get so much shorter.”
Sometimes it seems the intervening years have been but a dream. And I am thankful for the memories – and especially the memory aids … the photos and videos I possess that document the time I’ve been lucky to have on this planet. Sometimes we are so focused on the “now” we forget how special the past is to us. I truly enjoy looking back at memories found on old photographs and home movies … especially of my own childhood – those early carvings of my own unique branch on my family tree.
But sadly, the analog media on which we initially preserved our oldest memories is just like the memories in our heads – fading over time and even becoming lost. That’s why it’s so important to convert your photo prints, camcorder tapes, and home movie reels into digital files that can be backed up on multiple devices. You can never be too sure!
Life does seem unfairly short sometimes. I’m happy that I’ve managed to enjoy most of the time I’ve had so far … and that I’ve been careful to preserve the memories of days I’ll never see again. I hope you have plenty of special memories, too.