Time Passages

The passing of time has always fascinated me, but recently it seems to have taken on a more formidable flavour. Have you noticed that the older you get, the faster time goes? I sure have.

When you are younger, you are always waiting for something exciting: summer vacation, the start of school, Christmas, that first kiss, a driver’s license, turning 18, leaving home, going to the bar (legally), landing the perfect job, settling down, etc. When we pass those major milestones, the things we begin to wait for aren’t so pleasant: greying hair, retirement (well, that is pleasant in a bittersweet kind of way), funerals, memory loss, flexibility loss, hearing loss, etc. It seems like all the things we wait for as youngsters are gains, but the things we wait for as we age are losses. There are also fewer “first-time” milestones.

“As we get older the rate of new experiences lessens compared with youth, when almost everything is new. That leads to a sense of the days being longer but time passing much more quickly overall,” writes Scott E. Smith in the Capital Gazette.

Do you watch This Is Us? In Season 6, Episode 13, Randall sums it up quite nicely during his speech at Kate and Phillip’s wedding. He says, “I’ve been thinking a lot today, um… about time. And how, when you’re young—like when you’re Jackie’s age—a year is like a fifth of your existence. And so maybe when you’re younger, time seems to move a little bit slower. Summer vacation is a lifetime. But the older we get, the faster time just seems to come at us. All of us. You know, the years just keep flying by, faster and faster. It can give a guy whiplash, just thinking about it.” If you have a minute, read the full text. (A shout out to my daughter, Adriana, who found that quote in less than a minute when I’d been searching forever! Or maybe it just seemed like that.)

Adrian Bejan from Duke University recently conducted a study, which has been published in the European Review journal, about the science behind why time passes faster as we age. He breaks it into “clock time” and “mind time”. Clock time is, of course, the time we see on the clock or the calendar. Mind time is where it gets a bit tricky. It is a proven fact that as we age, we are unable to process as many mental images per second as we could when we were children. In other words, children process time differently because their memory and attention circuits aren’t fully developed. When we are adults, in most cases, our brain circuits are formulated, and we can correctly judge the passing of time. Read more about that in an article found in Better by Today.

So, to older adults, the days seem shorter than they do to children, who feel they have more time because they can process more mental images. Confused? I was. Bejan’s theory is often compared to time-lapse photography. The more photos that are captured per second, the slower they seem. Fewer photos taken per second make the image look like it is moving faster. Got it?  So, a child can process more mental images per second than someone in their sixties, for example. That is why time seems to slow down for them.

The study of time dates back to the work of Galileo Galilei (1564–1642). He came up with the Principle of Relativity, which basically says that all steady motion is relative and can’t be noticed without reference to an outside point. Sure. But this opened the door for our friend Albert Einstein (1879–1955) to think about time and motion. Can you imagine the conversations these two would have shared if they had lived at the same time?

I often find myself thinking, “Wow, when did that happen?” How did I get to be this age? A fellow blogger, Neil Scheinin, wrote a blog entitled 75 and Counting (Dec. 27, 2022) that got me thinking even more. His blog included information about the world’s population and where each one of us fits in. This website tells me that 12% of the world’s population is older than me. If we break that down by country, where I live in Canada, 22% of the population is older than me. I like the sound of that much better than 12%. I still can’t believe I am in that “upper echelon”. I remember when my mom was my age, and I thought she was old. If she were still alive and in her 90s, she’d probably be asking herself how she could have a daughter in her sixties. Time passages.

And speaking of time passages, references to the passing of time are everywhere, especially in music. Most of my favourites are from the 60s and 70s because that is when the best music happened, right? I’ve listed a few under Interesting Reads & Things but let Dr. Google find some more for you. As Valdy says in RENAISSANCE, “the years have passed us by like soft whispered sighs, not noticing our youth as it flew. “It’s crazy to look back at all the things I’ve done, the people I’ve met, and the places I’ve been. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true. Time flies, but if you look at it in terms of experiences rather than hours or minutes, you’ll have a different perspective.

I figured that time would slow down once I retired. Nope. It still feels like that was just yesterday. In fact, it has me almost dreading things I used to look forward to because I know they will be over before I know it. Is there anything we can do to slow down the passage of time? Physics aside, it may be as simple as making a few life changes. I’ve already written several blogs about the importance of exercising the brain, finding your passion, and trying new things. So, I’ll say it again: live your life! Experience things for the first time. If you have a productive day, time will seem to pass at a slower pace than if you are not doing anything. Sounds backwards, right? Chances are, if you are having an active day, you slept well. You are feeling more restful and younger. You see things differently. I challenge you to pay attention to time and what you are doing. When you look at the clock, do you say, “Oh, is it ONLY 2 o’clock?” or do you say, “Oh! It’s only 2 o’clock.”

Well, enough is enough. The hours are flying by today, and I have things to do. Until next time, here are some parting words from Rumi: The Past, the Future, O dear, is from you; you should regard both these as one.  

Interesting Reads & Things

Renaissance – YouTube

Al Stewart – Time Passages 4:3 HD – YouTube

Dirty Old Man – YouTube

When I’m Sixty Four (Remastered 2009) – YouTube

Jim Croce – Time in a bottle – 1973 – YouTube

Harry Nilsson – As Time Goes By (Audio) – YouTube

Secret of Life – James Taylor – YouTube

Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud (Official Music Video) – YouTube

Scott Smith: Time seems to move faster when we age. Here’s why. – Capital Gazette

No, It’s Not Just You: Why time “speeds up” as we get older – Science in the News (harvard.edu)

Why the Days Seem Shorter as We Get Older | European Review | Cambridge Core

Physics explains why time passes faster as you age (qz.com)

Why Is Time Passing So Quickly These Days? | Psychology Today

Why Is Time Passing So Quickly These Days? | Psychology Today





One thought on “Time Passages

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: