Some researchers suggest that the reason most of us have such strong memories from childhood is that first time experiences remain distinct in our minds. They also appear, at least psychologically, to stretch over a longer period of time.
But as we age, we start to repeat experiences. We return to the same places, engage in similar activities, even spend our vacations the same way. We fail to make distinct memories and in the process, time seems to fly by faster.
One way to “slow up time” as we get older is to take on a new experience.
I put this theory to the test this summer. I wasn’t ready to take on bungee jumping or barefoot skiing, but I did sign up for a one-week painting course at the Haliburton School of the Arts. I’d been a “dabbler” for many years but never had formal instruction. Structured to fit vacation schedules, the Haliburton School’s summer program is perfect, with week long courses that run 9 to 5 over five days. I signed up in February and was excited about the course until the day before….when I asked myself, what am I doing?
Suddenly the idea of taking an entire week just to paint seemed a bit self indulgent. But I’d paid my fee and bought my supplies so I dutifully showed up at exactly 9 o’clock one sunny August Monday.
The week was an astounding success. First of all, a big shout out to instructor and artist, Gary Chapman. He is a great teacher and a remarkable artist. My 7 classmates were the best. We encouraged each other, shared tubes of paint, worked hard, laughed a lot and over five days, yes we bonded and hugged when we said our goodbyes.
And true to the theory about slowing up time, the week took place over the course of five, very, very slow-paced days. Each day stands out in my mind as a single experience, characterized by the paintings we created that day. Focusing on one task, being back in school trying to “please” the teacher, spending my days in Haliburton and not Muskoka—these all served to stretch out a week that could just as easily have flown by in a blur of meals and
reading on the dock.
Instead I produced a total of 9 paintings, learned a lot, met new friends and even sold a pointing. Best of all, I created strong memories that I’ll conjure up next winter when my desk piled high with assignments and the grey sky doesn’t show a hint of permanent rose, phalo blue or cadmium yellow.