Some wise person once said “The days go slowly but the years go quickly.” An even wiser person said “It all goes too damn fast.” We sixty somethings know that the older we get, the faster time goes. It’s Fourth of July today and Christmas tomorrow.
Experts tell us that time seems to move slower in our early years because they are filled with first time events- first date, first kiss, first job, marriage, birth of first child, etc. First time events tend to make more of an impression.
Memories are more detailed and long lasting. With repetition, however, impressions are no longer unique and don’t last as long, disappearing quickly, creating the illusion of time slipping away.
Others suggest a “proportional theory,” that as we grow older, every additional period of time is a smaller proportion of our lives, so time seems to go more quickly.
A third idea is that the speeding up of time has something to do with the change in our perception of the world around us. The longer we live, the more familiar everything around us seems to be, so we don’t really pay attention any longer. Time slows up for us when the mind has to work to absorb and process unfamiliar information and situations.
So, how do we make time last? How do we slow it down?
We can do new things- take advantage of new and unique experiences. Travel Morocco; take up Mah Jong; watch a Learning Company course; join a bowling league; learn to play the zither. The more new information we try to absorb and process, the slower time goes, or so the theory goes.
Another way to slow time down is to pay more attention to our daily experiences- to be more mindful. Instead of focusing on the past or future, we can pay closer attention to the here and now: The tap of the woodpecker against the Maple’s trunk; the creaking of the rocker, the speckled green of the decaying leaves, the chatter of second graders beneath my window, the strange sulfur-like smell of my computer (that nobody else seems to detect). These kinds of observations may thicken and stretch time out a bit.
Judy Collins, still beautiful at 70, sings my favorite song about time: