I was young at Myna, that first time. When had the change come? He had retreated here, to Collegium, to spin his awkward webs of intrigue and to lecture at the College. Then, years on, the call had come for action. He had gone to that chest in which he stored his youth and found that, like some armour long unworn, it had rusted away.
He tried to tell himself that this was not like the grumbling of any other man who finds the prime of his life behind him. I need my youth and strength now, as never before. A shame that one could not husband time until one needed it. All his thoughts rang hollow. He was past his best and that was the thorn that would not be plucked from his side. He was no different from any tradesman or scholar who, during a life of indolence, pauses partway up the stairs to think, This was not so hard, yesterday.
from Dragonfly Falling
by Adrian Tchaikovsky
I read the above a few days ago, when I finally – due to having a grotty cold and therefore needing to spend several hours curled up under a blanket – found the time to get stuck into the next book of this brilliant but demandingly intense series, the reading of which has become one of my long-term reading goals.
It struck a chord with me, the passage I quoted above. Probably not surprising that my age – 43 at present – is similar to that of the character described – as far as I can tell from in-story context he’s in his 40s – and there’s been a few things going on in my offline life, most notably things happening in the lives of colleagues at my dayjob, which have rather brought home that although 43 isn’t old per se, it is definitely older.
There’s been other notable markers of time’s passage this year: mine & husband’s 20th wedding anniversary was in August; in a couple of weeks it will be 15 years since we bought our house (and, rather more remarkably because it feels very recent, it’s over 4 years since we got the first section of roof re-done); and it’s over a decade since one of my stories first appeared in print.
And yet, although there’s clearly been lots of time gone past it continually feels as though there’s far too little of it about. But really, I think the biggest issue I have with time these days is underestimating how long it will take me to prepare for, and recover from, the things I have to do (like dayjob) and therefore I’m forever feeling frustrated by finding I have so much less time than I’d hoped for the things I want to do.
A shame indeed, as the character Stenwold Maker reflects in the passage I quoted above, that one cannot store time to be used as and when we need it.
These musings were inspired by the current prompt “Time” at Molly Moore’s ‘Revelations’ meme. Click the badge above to find your way to other people’s thoughts on this topic.
If you’re wondering what that story was which first appeared in print over a decade ago, it was Shelter From Storms and you can download an updated version of it from this very site!