My 11-year-old is on his big 5th grade end-of-year trip today. He packed his bag, and got up bright and early, excited to visit a nearby camp with his classmates. He has been in school with most of these children for the last 6 years, since that first day of kindergarten in the fall of 2012.
The close of the school year is often a time when people say “where did the time go?” but in my case, I know exactly where the time went.
One of the upsides of tracking my time is that I have a record of all the hours that have passed since September 5, 2017 (our first day of school this year). I began tracking my time continuously in April 2015. Given how easy it has been to stick with, taking just three minutes or so per day, I wish I had started sooner. But knowing where the past three years have gone is better than not knowing, so I’m glad I have the records I do.
When I was researching memory and time perception for Off the Clock, I learned that relying on “artifacts” was one of the easiest ways to conjure up a memory. You’ve no doubt experienced this. A song reminds you of a high school adventure. A scent reminds you of somewhere you used to live.
A time log can do this too. I look back to early fall and remember our hike in the PA mountains. I remember our kids’ birthday parties. I look at October and remember time spent reading War and Peace, and practicing the Faure Requiem. I remember biking on the Lehigh Gorge trail near Jim Thorpe, and I remember running in the autumnal nature preserve near Cape May. I remember writing the manuscript of Juliet’s School of Possibilities in November. I remember watching my children perform in the church Christmas pageant, and I remember driving down to North Carolina for New Year’s. I remember a run along the Embarcadero in early January, and a dip in the outdoor hot tub in Tremblant in Canada. I remember fetching my kids from school during an early March snow storm. I remember trying to run the fish tank from our minivan when we lost power that cold weekend. I remember London, the driving rain of Stonehenge and high tea at Cliveden House.
It is true that I might have journaled about any of those things. But a time log has an added bonus. It doesn’t just show highlights. It shows everything: the bedtime battles, the errands on weekends, a random Friday night restaurant visit. The trip to the post office to get the kids’ passports renewed. The long drive to a wrestling meet somewhere in rural PA. All of this is there. And so I remember it.
When something is remembered, it does not slip unnoticed into the past.
No one can actually make more time. Still, looking at my time logs reminds me that life is rich and full. My logs make these years that everyone says go so quickly feel more like an intricate tapestry than a slick linoleum floor. Time is precious, but time is also plentiful — feeling as vast as summer seems to a child ending the school year.