What Does A Year Feel Like?

Hour glass with sand

So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90

Once upon a time, I taught first grade.

I remember a humorous incident one December day just before vacation. I helped the children cut out paper snowflakes and write a wish for the New Year. After dismissal, I noticed Daniel still at his desk, stuffing his backpack with his pencil case, books, and folders.

When I asked what he was doing, Daniel replied, “I don’t want to forget any of my stuff. Oh, and thanks for being my teacher. First grade was fun!”

Child as desk with crayon box

Time may flow in one direction. but how we experience its passage is more individual.

What does a year feel like?

During the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, people across the nation reported disorientation about time passing. Funny social media memes abound.

Pandemic Meme about time

Without our usual schedules, social activities, holiday celebrations, and other time markers, the days blurred together.  The heightened stress and fear only compounded this sensation.

Our memories got mushed.

I felt both comforted and validated hearing these reports. Now others might understand what I experienced after the traumatic loss of my father.

Grief and trauma distorts our sense of time.

Days stretch and bend. Past and present fuse. The months seem like moving parts. Memories shuffle like a deck of cards.

The future looms unreal. Waiting unbearable. 

I had not known before
    Forever was so long a word.
The slow stroke of the clock of time
    I had not heard.

Paul Laurence Dunbar

What does a year feel like?

A lifetime. Or a dream. A ballad or a song. A blink.

Calendar pages flipped through,

For some, this state-of-being is temporary. For others, it persists.

Your friend sends a Happy New Year wish and you’re still standing on the edge of June.

Time is a relentless trickster. It plays hide and seek on us. It sweeps by when we’re not looking. Pushes us forward whether we’re ready or not.

Lost time is never found.

Benjamin Franklin

Our brains are hard-wired to remember negative events better than positive ones. We recall rebuke more than praise, and rejection more than affection.

Remembering the good, especially during hard times, can help overcome this negativity bias.

So, I’ve begun making a list of all the good moments of 2022. Looking through photographs and my calendar helps.

Give it a try. You’ll get an instant lift.

Woman at desk with notebook writing a list.

Here are some highlights:

*A January sunset sail in Key West. 

*Hanging out with my family members in beautiful Sarasota.

*The joy of attending my daughter’s postponed 2020 college commencement.

*The fun of a family gathering in the Catskills.

*An incredible Writer’s Retreat in Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

*Welcoming a new grandson and 2 additional members to our family tree.

*An unexpected birthday gift arrives in the mail.

Forever is composed of nows. by Emily Dickinson

There are joys to be found in the present.

A sunny writing room.

A surprise message from an old friend.

Hugs from your grown kids.

Breakfast prepared for you.

Gratitude gives light to the dark days. 

These past months have been very hard. I am grateful for those who stood by me.

Long winding road toward the sun

I am grateful to the organizations that supported my writing this year: Key West Literary Seminar, Tuscan Book Festival, Joyce Maynard Write by the Lake, and Story Studio Chicago.

And I’m grateful to you readers for sharing this journey through time. Wishing you all a light-filled New Year!

What’s on your best days of 2022 list?

Author: EvelynKrieger

I'm a people watcher and word crafter, author of fiction and essays. I also blog on living the creative life during hard times. When not writing, I work as a private educational consultant. Special interests: dance, the moon, astronauts, beaches, poetry, staying alive.

37 thoughts on “What Does A Year Feel Like?”

  1. Boy, have you ever hit the nail on the head, Evelyn. It’s so true that some days (and phases of life) seem like they’ll never end and others go by in a blink. I love the reminder to remember good things when the dark days stretch on. And wishing you a light-filled new year as well! 🤍

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I just read Mitch Teemley’s post on Hanukkah, and now yours. I’m very intrigued and want to read up on it. Thank you again!

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    1. What an thought-provoking post and an insightful comment. And I love the Emily Dickinson quote.

      I recently read that as we age, our “sense” of passage of time can change, too, and the years may actually seem shorter. I wonder if it’s because they’re more blurred, like you shared of 2020?

      One of my favorite Einstein explanations of relativity goes something like that: when you’re sitting in a boring lecture, an hour can seem like a day, but when you sit next to a pretty girl, an hour can seem like a minute: that’s relativity! 😀 Maybe time is in the eye of the beholder?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve never heard that theory of relativity, but I love it! 😆 And it’s so true that the days and years seem shorter the older we get. I mean, I’ve always heard that, but it’s true. It feels like life’s moving at warp speed now. I’m fascinated by what you said about that – how it may be our sense of time that’s changing! I’m going to have to add that to my look-up list as well, because now I’m truly intrigued!

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        1. You’re raising an intriguing point about that, so now I’m off into that rabbit hole, too! One of my all time favorite quotes on this is Shaw’s “we don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” I think going down some rabbit holes (I mean it in the best way possible!) can be a joyous task that keeps us young-at-heart… What do you think?

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          1. Absolutely agree that playing and being curious keeps us young! 😃

            So… I was looking this up last night because I was fascinated by what you mentioned (it really does feel like life moves 1.5 times faster than it used to). Sure enough, I came across stuff on Google that echoes what you’d read. And we all know if Google says something, it’s true, right? 😆

            That being said, if your rabbit trail leads somewhere different – or you find out more – let us know! 😊

            Liked by 2 people

          2. Yeap! I forgot what show claimed that if someone hears something 3 times on tv, it must be true! Was it Marge Simpson? Wag the Dog? I must have heard it 3 times, so it must be true 😛

            On a more serious note, I’m extremely grateful to you for helping me down this rabbit hole, because mine turned out to open into an enormous cavern 🙂 It makes me wonder… Is our perception of time the only thing we get “wrong”? There are so many caves that lead out of that cavern I found of things we (humans) think we know, but don’t: Common sayings that actually mean different things than how we tend to use them. Common beliefs about our very anatomy that are false… I’m thinking I’m going to have to start documenting some of these snippets I’m running across in a more organized fashion…

            What goodies are you coming across?

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          3. Haha! I’m not sure what show, but I’m laughing!

            As to the other, I found some sources that said about what you’d expect. For example, we have more new experiences when we’re younger, which affects our perception of the passage of time. But I know what you mean on the rabbit trails, because THEN I ran across this doozy of a write-up, which was talking about “frames per second.” And that got me to thinking about something my dad’s done research on (and me, to a much lesser extent). Namely, the fact that our memories aren’t stored as moving pictures/videos the way we “see” them in our mind, but rather, they’re made up of a series of still shots. Our brain just fills in the gaps. Which isn’t a problem until our brain falsifies what we fill in the space in with. Otherwise known as confabulation. There’s been some fascinating research done on confabulation, if you aren’t familiar with it. Anywho, with that, I had to stop. 😜 It’s fascinating stuff, but nonetheless, I ran out of time.

            https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2019/no-not-just-time-speeds-get-older/

            Liked by 1 person

          4. You brought up two fascinating topics. I’m now off to read the original Cambridge Press article about the passage of time.

            The other topic is very intriguing: are your memories “still photos”? Play out in your mind as a video? Are in words and not visual? I’m going to have to look that up, it’s a fascinating area to explore, thank you so much for bringing it up!

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      2. Oh, I love that explanation! And, yes Time IS in the eye of the beholder–whether your suffering from PTSD, whether your 5 or 50 years old, whether you’re waiting i the doctor’s office, or spending an afternoon with your lover. There are many theories as to why time speeds up as we get older. Spending time with kids, though, can slow it down!

        Liked by 3 people

          1. Many other cultures do not do this. All around, it’s seems so sad. I did hear that some college students who can’t afford or get into campus housing are rooming with an elder to save money and for companionship. I think I also heard this story on NPR. What a creative idea.

            Liked by 3 people

          2. That idea is nothing short of SPECTACULAR! It HAS to be a win-win, how is this not common knowledge? Thank you so much for sharing!

            And, yes, I do think this is something that is wrong in our culture, it’s more than ageism, and I think it’s hurting people of all ages, not just the elderly.

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  2. You are absolutely right about the passage of time. The last few years have felt a bit off-kilter at time, but it’s so important to focus on those small rays of light piercing through the darkness on the harder days. It sounds like 2022 has been filled with special memories. I hope that 2023 brings you and your loved ones more of the same! ❤️

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    1. I’m glad you can relate. Makes me feel less alone in the time struggle. 2022 has had many challenges, especially the last few months, yet once I did my year in review I remembered so many special days and that not only lifted my mood but help me to sequence the events. Wishing you a light-filled year of joyful presence.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. So many heartstring moments in what you shared, Evelyn — and truths, I’d say! This: “Time is a relentless trickster. It plays hide and seek on us. It sweeps by when we’re not looking. Pushes us forward whether we’re ready or not.” Yes — I feel that – and what a wonderful antidote — the taking stock of the good, giving those meaningful moments more significance, I think, in our memories. Many thanks…and Happy Hanukkah…light and love! ❤

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    1. I’m learning that others, too, experience this time warp, PTSD or not. It’s very hard to describe so it means a lot to me that you find truth in my description. Thank you for reading and sharing your light, Victoria.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that anecdote from your 1st grade classroom, Evelyn! So sweet and funny. Your list of good moments from 2022 is great and I’m grateful that you suggested this practice. As we near the darkest day of the year, it is something that I very much need to do. Happy Hanukkah!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Wynne. As a mom of young kids, I’m sure you have your own treasure trove of funny anecdotes. First grade was a wonderful training ground for living in the moment. I’ve been making a practice of getting outside shortly after I wake up for 5 minutes of direct sunlight which is supposed to set your clock and regulate mood. I just learned an interesting fact about the approaching darkest day (DDay!).The northern hemisphere’s shortest day of the year is getting longer and the southern hemisphere’s longest day is getting shorter. It has to do with changes in the tilt of Earth’s axis and the orbit of the Moon. Of course this is measure in mere seconds but it’s a welcome thought, at least for my neck of the woods.!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Gayle! Appreciate your humor. We enjoyed the Boston public menorah lighting and concert on night one. Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a New Year of special memories. (Keep an eye open from Santa Boston.)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Evelyn! Speaking of “special memories,” I was just telling my psychotherapist how I need new memories during this particular season to help drown out all the traumatic memories that come up during this season. Having traumatic anniversaries is painful, and I think creating new memories during that particular time helps us to heal from that trauma. I’m doing what I can to change my future, so that I’m not constantly reliving the past in my mind. But the automatic trauma triggers will probably remain for the rest of my life. I just have to manage it differently now, especially as I have cumulated trauma to deal with.

        Indeed, I have pretty special memories this year.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s nice you kept me interested in this post with some timely quotes. As you get older it seems you experience more obituaries than birthdays it seems. At least the wild nature around me endures for now.

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