Tag Archives: Proust

…to know better

13 Oct

Since I turned 40 last year, presumably I am old enough to know better about certain things. I have come to a point in my life where people typically look backward and forward, thinking, “Holy crap, is this it?” and, “Please God, let me use my time wisely from here on out.” In that spirit, I am starting this blog. From my position in midlife, I am certainly experienced enough to share some of my thoughts, in a way that can hopefully make a difference for my own process and perhaps others’.

Looking backward, I have a sense of clarity about the mistakes that I’ve made along the way, which is a success of sorts. Here’s a classic: On my first day in 10th grade, I rode a new bus to school. At the end of the day, I did not remember the number of the bus and got on the wrong one. I rode the bus all the way to the last stop on the route and got off, as if I lived at that bus-stop. Well, I did not live there, or anywhere close to there, but I got off anyway. And I walked all the way home, on an 80-degree day in late August, wearing a brand-new Express wool sweater that had to be trotted out on the first day of school. I still have that sweater. And I remember how hot I was walking those five miles home. I was too embarrassed to say anything to the bus driver, who would have dropped me at my house without complaint, since my house was on the way back to the high school.

When I was younger, I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of people. To an extent, I have not changed. But that flaw has been tempered a bit, thank goodness. I would not walk those five miles again today. Part of the change involves a more keen awareness of time on this planet, and not wanting to waste time in trying to look like I didn’t make a mistake about something.

Seeing my children grow up, time is flying by so quickly that I can hear it whizzing past. Sometimes I look back on my day and think of how much time I spent on the computer, not doing anything tangibly interactive or creative. As I pivot from my backward view of the past 40 years to a forward view of the next 40, I am making a more concerted effort to spend time with the people I love, doing the things that I love, in settings that make me happy.

Proust began writing A la Recherche du Temps Perdu when he was 38. The timing was no mistake, a significant turning point for many people. The seven volumes of this work discuss themes of memory, flashback and creation of “art” that makes a difference. I am making an effort to read it through in French, as a fitting sendoff for my next 40 years–during which I hope to use my time more wisely, even if it means not saving face.