I have an uncle who’s one of the kindest, smartest, quirkiest people I know. He’s a scientist, an author and professor, but mostly I think of him as a student of human nature. He’s endlessly fascinated by how and why we live and behave the way we do.
A couple of years ago, Uncle Doug arrived at my cottage on his windsurfer with his Tilley hat held on by a rubber band strapped beneath his chin. For some reason we almost immediately got onto the subject of aging. He started talking about a theory he was studying on the passage of time—more importantly, the sensation of time passing and how our brains record it. He pointed out that the more change we experience, and the more drastic those changes are, the longer life feels. Turns out change, good or bad, actually slows down time.
So every bump in the road—every time we move houses, change jobs, start a new venture, end a significant relationship, travel to a dream destination, hit a milestone, take up a new pursuit—is like a gift of more time. More time remembered, more time to make your mark, more time to savour.
There’s a tendency to expend a lot of time and energy trying to protect ourselves and our loved ones from all the upcoming bumps in the road. But it’s the disappointments, failures, angst and anguish that equip us for the future and allow us to live larger, more compassionate and fulfilling lives.
By the time I was 28, I’d already weathered a failed marriage, filed for corporate bankruptcy protection and lost a close family member to cancer. It often felt like I was falling down more than I was moving forward. But in that same time frame, I learned how to hold my own in a boardroom with people twice my age, make a perfect martini, raise thousands of dollars for the arts in a single evening and look the guy who’d broken my heart in the eye and confidently tell him how I felt. I even won some awards along the way.
Looking back, protection from the world and all its inevitable potholes was the last thing I needed. And running headlong into risk and embracing it was more important than my degree. As with Barbara Love Festeryga, who launched into a new career at 75, and my uncle, who took up windsurfing in his 50s, this continues to be true regardless of your age.
You and I have the power to control the passage of time. We can keep reinventing ourselves, giving ourselves more opportunities to discover, grow and explore. So I’ll remind you, as I remind myself: Enjoy every minute!
Not only are we celebrating 85 extraordinary years as Canada’s favourite women’s magazine, Chatelaine was just named the #1 magazine in the country for the first time. But perhaps more exciting than these accomplishments, for some of us, was welcoming food celebrity Nigella Lawson into the brand new Chatelaine Kitchen a few weeks ago. Check her out reading Chatelaine, in the picture above with our publisher, Tara Tucker, left, and me.