“I discovered that it took me two days to sew a pair of slacks that I used to zip up in 3 hours. It's tough when you're as impatient as I am and you can't lay blame by yelling at the top of your lungs, "Will you please hurry up!!" (Guess I could yell, but I'd look mighty foolish yelling at myself that way.) So I've had to resign myself to being in that class of dawdlers that I vowed all my life to never be a part of.”
Speaking of “elusive,” time is that. On the one hand, I am amused at the paradox of gaining newfound patience in many things I chafed at waiting for when I was younger just when my time on earth is demonstrably shorter. On the other hand, I wonder - not counting rest periods for some kinds of tasks - if they really do take longer to finish or if, in tandem with the increased patience, I no longer see the need to rush through them.
My wise and wonderful great Aunt Edith once told me that it took until her seventies to understand that if she had something more interesting to do, the house cleaning could wait - the dirt wouldn't go anywhere.
Because the inevitable slowing that comes with age happens so gradually we aren't much aware of it until it becomes acute, so it is probably as hard to know if one is slower than in the past as it would be to recognize one’s own dementia, if that were to happen. Does it take me longer to wash dishes or sweep the sidewalk or vacuum the living room? I have no idea, particularly if it is a chore that doesn’t require a rest period.
If one really is slower, however, is it the task that is taking longer or, as Roberta suggests, does one dawdle more? Dawdling for me is more akin to becoming distracted by something else and although I’ve not made a point to notice yet, I appear to have less ability, these days, to ignore stray thoughts and ideas that wander into my mind even when I’m intent on a such a task as writing a blog entry.
That leads me to wonder if, like the waning ability with age to tune out ambient noise which makes it difficult to hear close-up conversation in a loud room, do we also, in a sort of cognitive counterpoint to the physical aural change, lose the ability to ignore the extraneous chatter in our heads as we get older? Might that be what slows us down sometimes?
I don’t have any answers to this and no time for research these days, if it’s even been studied. But I’m curious to know if it’s just Roberta and me, or if dawdling and distraction are common among elders.