Planet Haolewood

A toolbox, a change of underwear, and a surfboard.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

People Years, Part 2

Perhaps I’ve oversimplified. Maybe the experience of passing time cannot be described by such a simple calculation. There are strange “time warps” in life during which the acceleration I’ve described seems to stop or even reverse itself. I recently experienced one myself actually. The first few days after I moved to Hawaii were so over stimulating that they seemed to last a VERY long time. I remember telling someone that I met I had only been on the island for 48 hours and when I thought about it later I realized that I had actually only been here 24 hours but I said 48 because it had seemed like such a long time. So strong was my feeling that I had been there for more than one day that even after I realized my mistake I had to carefully retrace where I had been and what I had done to convince myself that it had really been one day and not two.

The following days also passed slowly but not quite so slowly. Gradually they began to speed up to a pace equal to what I experienced before I moved. New experiences, big changes, traumatic events and crisis can cause these “time warps.” So maybe if I moved to a new state every day I could slow down my perception of the passage of time so much that I would become virtually immortal! But I don’t think I’m going to do that because while I might achieve life ever-lasting I’d be too exhausted to enjoy it. Besides surf conditions on the North side of Kauai usually pick up in the fall so I don’t want to move yet.

My experience (and I’m sure you have all had similar experiences of your own) suggests an explanation of why we feel time’s acceleration as we age. To a new born child every moment is filled with new things. Imagine how long even a single day must seem to them. As a child grows and as we adults age we become more and more familiar with our world. The implication would seem to be that in order to live a full life we should all be seeking out new experiences as we get older.

I’m all for doing new things and I’ve been known to try a few myself. It can make you feel more alive. I’m sometimes tempted to end a blog entry at a point when it makes a nice tidy conclusion like right about now. Life is short so make the best of it. Nothing wrong with that, right? But this time I’m going to resist temptation and ramble for at least a few more sentences because there’s something about that conclusion that rubs me the wrong way. Maybe it’s not such a good idea to view the passage of time as something that needs to be resisted. Aging and the changes in the perception of time that go along with it are natural phenomena which every human experiences and they are going to eventually catch up with everyone form the time waster to the one who lives each day to the fullest. I guess what I’m saying is that to really live life to the fullest is to appreciate all its qualities, INCLUDING its fleeting nature and not in spite of it. So I say let the “people years” pass on by at whatever speed they do. We don’t know where we’re going anyway so why worry about how quickly or slowly we’re getting there.


At 9/10/2006, Anonymous Dirk said...

As a party to the conversation Boreas mentioned with 60 to 80 year olds, I want to add that I have a friend who has a friend who is 94. The 94-year-old reports, “It seems like breakfast is every 15 minutes.”
And I agree with what Boreas wrote about new experiences slowing down time -or familiar ones speeding it up- in fact I just sat down this morning to ask Boreas if time had slowed down for him when he reached Kauai, and logged in to find he been to quick for my question.
Yet when I remember my childhood summers, which seemed endless, longer than the school year, one day after another was much the same.
Which brings me to doing things. It is important to me to do certain things, most of all write fiction. So I sit down at the same old desk every day in front of the same old computer and try to make something new. And times goes by fast. I have the feeling that it takes me longer and longer to write the same amount. If I wrote something really new, would it slow time down


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