A Distorted Sense of Time

Jan 2, 2016

My sister died in 2014. That doesn’t sound so long ago in the context of just beginning
2016. And yet, grieving her absence, remembering how tied we were to each other,
recalling so many smiles and fun times even as we were dealing with so many
hospitalizations—it seems like someone else’s life. The mind plays a little trick with you to
ease the pain of loss. The mind distorts the sense of time and identification with these
experiences and lulls you into thinking you are not so sad, you are not so traumatized by
your loss, because the You in those memories is disjointed from the You of today.  It’s
like that death happened to someone else. A protection mechanism, meant to shield you
from pain.

A friend recently posted a photo on Facebook of our days together in Chad in the Peace
Corps in the late 1970s. I look at my face in that photo and I know exactly how excited,
how scared, how living-on-the-edge that Michael was as a twenty-one year old arriving in
such a new world of sights and sounds and smells. I can look at that photo from thirty-
nine years ago and I identify immediately with all that young man was feeling. The mind
plays no tricks with the Chad photo because it was a time of joy, a time of thrilling
adventure. I am right there again. Young again, my blood racing as I tackle the Unknown.  
But not a scary Unknown. Not an off-putting Unknown. But one that beckoned to a life of
adventure that all started with a decision to go to Africa.

Our sense of time is flexible. It adjusts for us. To weather the traumas that come with the
ups and down of just living, or to put us right back into the most thrilling moments of our
earth-bound journey.