How short time seems to get, as time goes by

Published 2:12 pm Thursday, May 28, 2009

We have a CD of Frank Sinatra songs in the car and I was listening to it the other day as I drove to Natchez to visit my mother, and one of the songs, “As Time Goes By,” from the film “Casablanca,” set me to thinking about time.We have a CD of Frank Sinatra songs in the car and I was listening to it the other day as I drove to Natchez to visit my mother, and one of the songs, “As Time Goes By,” from the film “Casablanca,” set me to thinking about time.

I came to the conclusion that we seem to have a lot more time when we are young, though we don’t realize it at the time, than we do as the years pass — and I’m not just talking about time in the years that stretch out ahead of the young.

In some respects we hear about all this time from the young all the time, as in “I have nothing to do.” Strange, how when a child says those words the parent is often wishing for more time to do any of seemingly innumerable tasks. Somehow, when as parents we are most pressed for time, that always seems to be the case. Of course, as the child ages and time goes by, those seemingly innumerable tasks seem to multiply, both at work and at home.

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I think the fellow that wrote the song “As Time Goes By,” Herman Hupfeld, must have been thinking some of these same thoughts as he began the song, for part of it goes “This day and age we’re living in/Gives cause for apprehension/With speed and new invention/And things like fourth dimension …” for it is this age we’re living in that seems to keep multiplying the tasks with speed and new invention.

Hupfeld wrote the song in 1931, according to an entry on the Internet. Funny, how we don’t think of 1931 being all that technologically advanced, but I suppose for the people going through that time, technology seemingly was expanding at an exponential pace as the world raced towards World War II when Hupfeld’s song would achieve immortality with the Humphrey Bogart film “Casablanca.” Our children and grandchildren may one day look back on today, a time when, to those of us living through it and technology appears to be advancing at an explosively rapid pace, as not being all that technologically advanced. If we could see to future, I wonder what we might be racing towards.

Back to time rather than technology, though. As I thought of this song and the seeming lack of time we have as compared to when we were younger, another song popped up in my mind — Nat King Cole’s “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer,” and its refrain, “You’ll wish that summer could always be here.”

I suspect Nat knew he was right as he sang those words. I know I don’t recall those words being such a big deal when I first heard them. My first recollection of the song was of being in my grandmother’s den rigging some gear to be ready to go fishing the next morning. It was summer and I had nothing else to do on a Saturday morning during the summer other than go fishing.

Gee, the words of that song were prophetic. Fishing, that which I was preparing for when I first heard the song, is now one of the things for which I have too little time. Summer isn’t hazy or lazy, but it sure can be crazy sometimes, but often not crazy in the good way about which Nat King Cole was singing.

I find it frustrating, how as time goes by, we have less and less time for the things we enjoy and sometimes even for the things that need doing like planting and working in the garden and mowing the yard.

We can’t go back in time, or forward, despite all the science fiction stories about time machines, and “Mr. Einstein’s theory …” and “… the fourth dimension …” both of which are mentioned in “As Time Goes By.”

If we could go back in time, though, I wonder if we would use the time we have a chance to repeat any better than we used it the first time. I doubt it. My father was a great reader of science fiction and I once read one of his books having to do with time machines, and the people who used one didn’t do any better for the world than what had been done the first time. In fact some people, both good and bad, ended up not being born because of changes that were made to the past, but it had no appreciable affect on what happened later. For some reason, when I read that it rang true to me, even though it was presented in a fictional setting.

“As Time Goes By” obviously was a song about love, and about time, and the words it ends on, “Oh yes, the world will always welcome lovers/As time goes by” probably reveal some of the best uses of time, just as Nat King Cole’s’ refrain “You’ll wish that summer could always be here,” at the end of “Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer” tell us about our memories of time gone by.