That Time Before Time


Time stands still on the water and age doesn’t matter in the middle of the Cape Fear River.  Let me take you there!


A soft, cool breeze flows down the hatch and brushes my face as I open my eyes to see a lavender dawn sky above. Water laps under the boat and I smell bacon and pancakes. It’s Easter morning, 1980 on the Xanadu.  I am 7 years old.


Dad pops into my small v berth cabin, rubs my forehead and announces that breakfast will be served soon.  The floorboards creak as he makes his way back to the main salon where he proceeds to play a Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (country music) cassette tape at 20,000 decibels signaling to the entire crew (my brother, mom and me) to rise and shine!  


At the table I ask “How does the Easter Bunny get to us out here?”  I was truly stumped as to how an oversized rabbit could propel himself to the middle of our anchorage with all of our goodies in tow.


My thoughts moved on to the chocolate covered Cadbury egg, jelly beans, and Peeps…all delicious treats but the real gift was being on the water and the moment itself.


Time Before Time

These were happy-go-lucky, nomadic days spent sailing, swimming, and playing. There was no agenda, appointments, or cell phones. It was like time stopped when we were at sea.


Me and my brother Bill on the deck of Xanadu

Me and my brother Bill on the deck of Xanadu

It was the age before I started “keeping count.”  


I Feel Like a Number

But at some point, we always had to go back to “reality”: work, school, responsibilities.


As I contemplate my age (and whether it matters), I was inspired to google who started time and when.


Turns out that in an effort to relate to daily life, the Egyptians invented time in 3,500 b.c.  by measuring the days using the sun.   


And just like that, you’ve got time. Before you know it, you’re 46 “punching the clock” wondering where it went???!!! Every minute counts.


Well I do not FEEL 46. I feel 25. This month’s theme begs the questions: what does your age mean anyway? And WHO IS COUNTING?


At my AGE, there are certain milestones I should have crossed: White picket fence, at LEAST 2 husbands and or children, while running a Fortune 500.


And because of my age, I feel like I am in a mass scramble to do it all.  I ain’t getting any younger.


I want to level up in sailing, and writing and hey, how about taking up piano or the lost art of sewing? I’m half way through my life- now is the time! 


Aware of the Time Going By

I MUST have been 28 years old when I became “Aware of the time going by,” the same age as Jackson Brown when he wrote the lyrics to The Pretender.


Instead of feeling in such a rush, what if we can go back to that blissful child-like mind and become UNAWARE of the time going by? …when nothing really matters except whether to have plain or blueberry pancakes?  We used to complain about Dad cranking the music in the morning, but I’d give anything to wake up to a little “Baby’s Got a Hold on Me.”


The beauty of life is that we can be wherever we want if we just get still.  Be grateful for your age but strive to be in the here and now. 


The Present Knows No Age

In nature, agelessness and peace exists. The only moment that matters is the present moment.


If you’re feeling frantic today, keep in mind there’s plenty of time. Age is just a number. Breathe. Tune in to your world before you started keeping count.


I don’t remember what Dad’s answer was to my perplexing question but I do know that there is a space where the clock stops and magic happens. It’s the place where the Easter Bunny makes deliveries on your sailboat in the middle of a North Carolina river!

on the water


For more on staying in the moment, check out my essay Why Worry.