Recently I got the chance to listen to performance artist Marina Abramovic talk about her life. There is a lot that can be said about hearing Marina Abramovic talk about her life, but at the most basic level it struck me to hear a 70-year old woman reflect on her life, Marina Abramovic or not. My twenties is perhaps the first time I've become cognizant of the process of becoming while it is still going on. I am aware that time begins to speed up, since our lives are less punctuated by events and emotions and people that are unfamiliar. Neuroscientists say that our sense of time begins to speed up because there are less things imprinting themselves on our brain compared to when we were younger.
At one point Abramovic commented on a break-up that left her with four years of sorrow, discussed what she did to finally overcome it (it involved shamanism, alternative therapies, and a large, naked lady confronting her over a fire) and then moved on. It was a casual comment: four years of pain, tossed aside in the wind. I'm sure at the time it felt like moving through hell with no end in sight. But now she was 70, and that was but a moment in time. Four years. Life moves on. Blip.
I regarded this with amusement, and jealousy. I'm a mere 27 years. 4 years is 15% of my life as I know it! A 4-year heart ache? While I'm aware that the years are passing more quickly, there are still days and weeks that drip like honey - sloooow, anatagonizingly so. And the things that happen to me: they are sharp, and immediate, and I feel my entire self consumed by them. I'm not time-wizened and age-thickened, not yet. But I see the beauty in life on the other side of age, a beauty in the knowledge that getting older comes with its own set of downsides, but sheer perspective is something I'm looking forward to gaining with each passing moment.