Oh Jesus. I turned 47 today. How does this happen? One way to look at becoming older is that while it is not the most pleasing twist of life, it is preferable to the alternative. You either live and accumulate age-related physical degeneration or you don’t live and years pass but your cold corpse is unaffected. Either way, 47 is a turning point because you are unquestionably on the downward side of your 40’s. Didn’t I just turn 40 yesterday? It seems so. The oft-repeated refrain: why do the years seem to shrink as you get older?
Why does time seem compacted?
Obviously, the nature of Time does not alter for our Earthly existence. We do not dart around the surface of this planet at the speed of light; time is a constant for all intents and purposes.
I feel as if my 40’s have flown by more rapidly than any other period in my life. The days fly by faster. Shit unravels quicker than I can put it back together. I can’t keep up with the furious pace of time. One minute of time at my age seems to equal what 30 seconds might have been when I was 16. How can this be. Since the measurement of time is uniform, it’s obviously our perceptions, the relativity of time’s units that are altered and distorted through our aging viewpoint. Time is a static, measurable unit from our lumbering 3-dimensional perspective, but science has demonstrated that time can also be a fluid element that is contingent on many other factors.
I’ve used this analogy previously. I think of time as a measurable unit in the same way I think of weight being one as well. Twenty pounds, measured on Earth’s surface, is always 20 pounds. However, assume 2 scenarios. First, you must lift 20 pounds upon waking from an bad night’s sleep while fighting a cold. The weight will seem much heavier than a second scenario in which you’ve just completed a 45 minute weight training session of dead lifts and bench presses. Now 20 pounds will seem almost light and feathery. Same weight, entirely different perspectives. This is a contrast we accept without deliberation or bafflement. Weight is a natural extension of our daily perceptions. However, time is nebulous and difficult for us to comprehend as an object. Time is ethereal, without body, and seemingly diffuse. We can’t wrap a physical measuring tool around it. Clocks are mysterious mechanisms which measure indirectly and by proxy.
Time flies for me. The days swiftly leave me in their dust and 1 year becomes 5, and then 10, and then I start to sense some apprehension at turning 50, and I know the next 3 years, like the diminishing point of a pyramid, shrink exponentially as part of a cohesive and perpetual structure. The nature of time is to shrink as years and experience compound. In our youth, the pyramid is its widest, and with each passing year it shrinks, and by the time you’d made it halfway up the pyramid, the level you’re on is much smaller than the first. Like a coil, large and vast fragments of life diminish, giving the impression that time is racing when in fact it is the ascending structure of time that is narrowing.
As a minute shrinks, the impression it leaves on our bounded reality is that of briefness, and thus the minute is smaller and we judge time in terms of an ounce because it’s all we can do with our limited senses.