One of the most influential physicists of all time, Albert Einstein, shared this view, writing, “People like us who believe in physics know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” In other words, time is only an illusion that helps things make sense.
This idea held significance to me over this past weekend. It was a big birthday weekend here in my family. On Saturday, I celebrated turning 50 with a gathering of friends (I wanted a fun, crazy dance party:-), and on Sunday, we had a luncheon celebrating the birthdays of my 20-year-old daughter and my 77-year-old mother-in-law. We even had the cake inscribed, “Happy Birthday to Ava and Granny” for the combo party!
We celebrated with friends – old and new.
The festivities had me thinking that the old saying is true: Age is just a number and that we’re all on a vast continuum, celebrating the highs, and enduring the lows, right alongside one another.
Things are some reasons why time (and age) is an illusion:
1. Creativity remains an ever-present force at all times in our lives.
Creating isn’t based on linear time. Creativity never ends. We are born creators and remain that way all throughout life. There’s no difference between becoming an artist and picking up a paintbrush for the first time at age 21 or 75. The artist is the artist. The ability to explore, expand, create, and try new things never ends.
According to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum:
“At the age of seventy-three, she took on a new subject: aerial views of clouds and sky. Suffering from macular degeneration and failing vision, O’Keeffe painted her last unassisted oil painting in 1972. However, O’Keeffe’s will to create did not diminish with her eyesight. In 1977, at age ninety, she observed, ‘I can see what I want to paint. The thing that makes you want to create is still there.’
Late in life, and almost blind, she enlisted the help of several assistants to enable her to continue creating art. In these works, she drew on favorite motifs from memory and her vivid imagination.”
Creativity wasn’t a part of her life. Georgia O’Keeffe was accessing her full creative potential until the very end.
2. Second acts and third acts, and so on, show our ever-evolving paths of discovery, proving that time is an illusion.
So many people have second acts in life. I think about Louise Hay. After surviving an unbelievably tough childhood that involved abandonment, rape, a teenage pregnancy, and more, she discovered her true purpose: a profoundly personal and world-changing mission of healing lives through changing our thoughts and beliefs.
Her first book was published at age 50. And she didn’t start Hay House, a massively successful publishing company, until she was 61! In her last three decades, she produced over 15 ground-breaking pieces of work while bringing other leading-thought authors into the public eye through her thriving company.
Like our magnolia tree in the backyard that continues to stun with its outrageous blooms every may, we are also timeless in our ability to produce new fruits and delight ourselves and the world with what we can create and become in our various “acts” in life.
3. Our relationships continue to blossom, change, and evolve throughout every decade.
We’re still making new friends – all the way through. As a child, I had the crazy idea that my grandmother never made new friends. It’s almost like I thought her friends were like statues, set in stone, never to be altered or changed.
That’s not true.
You could meet a new partner while living in an adult residential community, which could become the single most beautiful relationship of your life. There’s no limit to what’s possible.
This idea hit home recently when I talked with my mom on the phone the other day. We were discussing thoughts I had about turning 50. I told her how I had been enjoying meeting new people and making new friends lately.
She said, “Me too! I don’t think that ever ends.” The idea that older people are rigid, stuck, and don’t welcome new people into their lives is preposterous! Time really is only an illusion that helps things make sense. Older people are sometimes more childish and silly than teenagers (trust me – I know a few :-)!
4. We can enjoy different phases of motherhood throughout time.
Yes, of course, women have peak fertility years and are biologically wired to have children at certain times.
Still, even when forced to look at the biological constraint of age, motherhood is a vast continuum. On a linear timeline, no matter where you slice it, we’re either mothering others, allowing loved ones to mother us, and hopefully, even mothering ourselves.
Motherhood is a huge part of our lives at every age.
It’s not as black and white as it seems. Time itself is not real. Time is only an illusion that helps things make sense.
We all live in this one precious moment every day, all day. There is no time. And age is just a reason to have a really fun party!
Did this story resonate with you? Do you know someone approaching a milestone birthday and could use a fresh perspective? Please share this with them today!