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Miscellaneous thoughts and ramblings
Wednesday, April 20, 2005
The Second Derivative with Respect to Time
Everyone says that time goes faster when you're an adult than when you're a child. It's true. Summer vacation in elementary school lasted a lifetime. I remember endless days bicycling on hilly trails around our neighborhood, coming home only when it was dark or I was starving. I would do this for weeks at a time and was perfectly content and had no idea how far off in the future the first day of school awaited. A school year also lasted forever. Junior high school was an eternity.

A few months ago my dad, who is in his seventies, told me that it's not only that time goes faster as an adult than as a child. He said that time goes faster and faster the longer you're alive. The psychological sensation of the passing of time keeps accelerating. I've never thought of it like that but it's absolutely true. College went by much faster than high-school and medical school faster still. My residency was a blur of intense learning and sleep deprivation. It feels like I was just married. When did my 9 year old get so big? My dad says that his sixties were a blink of an eye.

It slips by so quickly. And we've all got so little time left.
I find myself wanting to put the brakes on, this speedster called "Time" is moving too fast.
Same thing here. It's pretty depressing.
Okay, first of all, Irina, what are you, like, 19? You don't get to complain yet.

Secondly, please excuse me if I don't break into a rousing chorus of "Sunrise, Sunset." Maybe I'm odd, but I always felt like time was going by quickly, even as a child. I remember the beginning of the school year, when I wasn't all that bummed out cause I knew that suddenly it would be summer, and that I would be asking myself, Where the heck did sophomore year go?

This doesn't mean I developed a carpe diem philosophy or anything. I'm still as much of a procastinator as I was then. And at the same time, I don't have a "life is short" philosophy. On the contrary, life is long. And I mean that in a deeply cynical way. If nothing horrific has happened to you personally (or to your loved ones) yet, just wait a while. (God forbid anything bad should happen to anyone, but I'm just saying.)

Have a nice day.
I always thought the lyrics to Time Stand Still by Rush were an excellent expression of this facet of life. These words are even more poignant when viewed in retrospect, as the author lost both his wife and daughter a few years later:

I'm not looking back
But I want to look around me now
See more of the people
And the places that surround me now

Freeze this moment
A little bit longer
Make each sensation
A little bit stronger
Experience slips away...
Experience slips away...
Time stand still

No, I'm not 19 anymore. I'm 20. Isn't that sad?
Horrific things have been happening, but (to be even more cynical) they are necessary to offset the nice things. Otherwise life would be even longer... by being boring!
The corolary to this phenomenon is a statement made by a friend's mother many years ago. She was in her 70's and said that she felt and thought the same way she did when she was in her mid 20's. I now fully resonate with her feelings. It is weird - who is that middle age (old) lady in the mirror? Why do those funky outfits look so cute on my grand daughter - not on me? Svenmom
Mirty: Welcome. Thanks for listing us on your blog.

Ralphie: Really? You had the time-goes-fast thing as a kid? OK. I totally agree with your cynicism that there's plenty of misery. I think you need a hug. And a big sloppy kiss.

Nomad: Neil Peart lost his wife and a kid? Sh*t. I didn't know that.

Irina: 20? Yikes. A year or two ago I was twice your age.

Svenmom: Yeah, subconsciously I still think of myself as about 19.
Svenmom, Wow. I had that conversation with my grandmother when I was 20. It was very eye opening to me. At 20, a person of 70 seems ancient. To have lunch with her, and listen to her say that, beneath the white hair and wrinkles she felt no different inside herself than she did when she was my age, was one of the more memorable early lessons about life I ever received.

From this page:

In August of 1997, Neil Peart -- drummer and lyricist for the band Rush -- lost his daughter, Selena, in a car accident. Within a year, he had also lost his wife, Jackie, to cancer. The two tragic blows apparently it hit Neil hard enough to take a break from his life as a whole. He has kindly chronicled his trip back to The World in a book entitled, "Ghost Rider -- Travels on the Healing Road."

Ghost Rider is available from Amazon.
Well, now I'm completely bummed out.
L'havdil -- on the contrary -- although time zips past for me, I know a much older person, who's not in the best of health, and last year he said to me "Each year is like a century..." And that's not because he's cramming 100 years' worth of stuff in 365 days, but rather because he's ailing and a year seems like such a long time to him.

I find that setting mini points of reference/time markers in my life make a difference in the passage of time. My bulletin board might have a few invitations for weddings or bar-mitzvahs; at first, the dates are three months away, then suddenly they're here -- then gone! Or your child has a presentation to prepare for at the start of the second school term you help him with it, he presents it, and suddenly the school year is over.

Yes, time has a way of moving quickly, like a beach's cool sand sifting through our fingers... It seems as if it's plentiful, but it moves rather quickly.
Nomad: Thanks. That's really horrible.

B&C: Yeah, this thread started contemplative, and has quickly declined to morose. I'm thinking about drowning myself in the toilet.

Torontopearl: I haven't thought of that. Miserable times go very slowly. Perhaps time slipping by quickly is a testament to how blessed we are.
TP, good thing you at least have bar-mitzvas and weddings on your calendar... Some people have nothing but funerals to attend. : (
I'm with B & C. I'd go for the death by toilet thing, but I'm too old to climb up that high. Mama Nomad
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