Race Starting Blocks

With all the school graduations and commencements taking place, a common theme is “Now is our time”. Somehow the bright future that awaits each graduate seems so far in distance that light years is a more appropriate term. But what happens when time is applied to the distance? The distance closes remarkably fast. In fact, too damned fast.

Some scientific approaches about time perception, especially in an aging population, illustrates that the amount of time one has lived has some effect on time escalation perception. Imagine a two year old.  At one year old, that two year old child has lived 50% of his or her time on this planet whereas for someone in their 60s, 70s, one year represents a much smaller fraction of time. A great article from NPR covered this territory with regard to the perception that time seems to speed up as we age. Through this process, it would appear that people actually run out of time but that is a fallacy. Time is ad infinitum, ageless, forever, so how can one run out of it?

A more descriptive thought is we run into time.

Somewhere in our lives, time and our unconscious self met up in a single moment. From then on, our aware self notices that we are hurtling through time toward our inevitable demise. We become aware that instead of fifty years to experience life, we are now limited to several decades before we shuffle off our mortal coil. Feeling pressure, our experiences become more precious. Time flies by unchecked.

Another explanation is that time seems to drag on when we are learning new experiences. Remember how childhood summers lasted ages – because we were learning new stuff, how to swim, play games, explore nature, and build new friendships. All new stuff to our nascent brains. That coding process takes time and effort on our part. But once you learn how to do something, then we begin auto-pilot phase.

For example, when you were learning how to drive, it seemed as if there were millions of instructions encoding your brain but after forty years of driving, you can actual drive while you daydream and not get killed. And because of that familiarity, you don’t work at driving. There is nothing to encode so time speeds up.

Of course, all this is just perception. Time is relegated to specific rules of the universe. It doesn’t actually speed up. But it still doesn’t ameliorate the fact that as we age, we have a compelling need to experience our life in a more direct and honoring way than when we were younger. The desire for “meaning” in life takes a giant step into our awareness. But that’s a different story.

Catch you later.