Planet Haolewood

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

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

People Years

If you’ve been around on the planet for a few years you may have noticed that time seems to accelerate. When I was a kid and the holidays had ended I remember the year that stretched before me until the next holiday season seemed so long that it might as well have been infinite. But don’t those years go speeding by now? And doesn’t it seem as though each is shorter than the last? Things have sped up quite a bit since I was a kid and I’m only 34!

A few months ago I broached this topic as I ate dinner in an Ethiopian restaurant with my mother, father, aunt and uncle. Their ages range form the 60s to the 80s and they confirmed to me what I already suspected was true: the acceleration of the perceived passage of time continues throughout one’s life. If it seems fast to me at my tender age (at least compared with my fellow diners) imagine how the years must fly by for them!

Consider a 15 year old cat. It seems wrong to say that kitty is 15 years old, as if he were attending his first school dance and looking forward to getting his learning permit. He is a respected elder of the feline world. So we use cat years to express his age. We multiply by 5 or 7 or whatever it is and pronounce him 105. The math never seems to work out right but the concept rings true.

I submit that we need a similar conversion to describe our age in years as we actually perceive them. But calculating one’s age in “people years” requires a little more advanced math than simple multiplication. I haven’t actually worked it out and I think it involves calculus. So it there is someone out there is the blogosphere who can express this idea in a mathematical equation please post a comment.

So here’s how it works. I like to think that I am going to live to be 100 which means that I’m about 1/3 of the way done right now. But because my early years SEEMED to pass so slowly and the years ahead are going to go by even faster than I perceive them now in “people years” I’m already well passed the 1/3 mark. Realistically I’m probably passed the 1/2 mark. Let’s just say for the sake of argument that in “people years” I’m 60. That means that assuming that I live to be 100 the amount of time I’ve lived so far FEELS like about 3/5 of the amount of time my whole life will feel like by the time I die in 2072.

That’s a rather alarming thought isn’t it? My proposed equation really brings home the idea that life is short.


At 9/06/2006, Blogger Blogadier General said...

Your post illustrates an interesting paradox about aging: life only seems short after you've been living it for a long time. In other words, the more true the statement ("life is short") feels, the less true it actually is.

At 9/06/2006, Blogger BOR-ee-us said...

Dude, Shove me in the shallow water before I get too deep!


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