By conventional measurement units, I suppose the simple answer is ‘no’. It sure seems like it moves along faster with each passing year though. Is it simply down to getting older or might there be something more to it?
A while back I visited the road I lived on until I was nine years of age. I remembered it well yet everything seemed so small, so distant. I felt a bit lonely there; for a past and the people in it that was both present and gone at the same moment. I could sense the past there right alongside me – a bit weird and just out of reach of my five senses.
So I stood close to the wooden gate my dad had built, in front of our old house. I didn’t stand right at the gate looking in – that might have been a little disconcerting for someone looking out at me. It was close to where a photo of my brother, a friend and myself was taken. I remember I had snow in my hand, and stuffed the it right down the back of my brother’s jacket after the photo was taken. He remembers it to this day.
Time does all that of course, kind of like the vehicle through which the experiences of past events travel back to the present. In the process, I think most experiences move towards a more neutral centre – some just take longer than others.
Given that time does indeed seem to affect experience, is the opposite true? It seems that as we age and gain more experience in the business of living, time seems to begin to pass quicker under the affect of experience.
Here’s some reasons it may seem so. Maybe it’s true too.
The Novelty Of Youth
Novelty tends to slow down our perception of things. When we are young so many things are novel and fresh that it seems like so much more actually happened in the time span. It’s also why for me at least, time seems to pass slower when I am travelling, and my recollection is so much more vivid of it that ordinary day-to-day life.
Big impressions count when we are young; they are easy to make, and they form many of the foundations for our adult lives. There are just so many milestones to hit in those first eighteen years. Many of them are so identity-centric too, at a time when that identity is being created.
The first day of primary school wasn’t really all that much more important than the first day of college, or a ‘real’ job. In my case, I remember it so clearly, like many of the ‘firsts’.
The relativity thing. There are two branches to this one.
The first is the entire branch of alternative explanations running from faster atomic vibration in our bodies, increasing-frequency earth pulses, raising levels of global consciousness, and new spatial dimensions.
Then there is a theory that as more stuff (technology, possessions, creation, people, pollution etc) and collective consciousness is being generated in the world, there is more energy vibrating everywhere and we pick up on this on some level. We are for the most part unconsciously aware of it, and from time to time it manifests itself as a kind of discomfort, a vague sense that things are speeding up and time is moving faster.
Did you ever get that feeling? I have felt it over the last few years, and perhaps it will become more frequent as I move through my thirties.
December 21st 2012 is reckoned to have been an important date in humanity’s spiritual journey, aligning with the ancient Mayan calendar as the date from which a new era in our collective consciousness begins.
There may be some truth to higher vibrations and earth frequencies, who knows? I don’t. Nothing in my experience would lead me to reject them anyway.
One thing is for sure, with the development of the study of quantum physics and all the bizarre stuff that has been experimentally demonstrated at that level of existence, there’s not much point rejecting the possibility of something unless that standing comes from experience.
Anyway, the easier-to-swallow relativity hypothesis is that as we age, we have more years under the belt, so each that passes seems like that much less.
Technology is speeding all sorts of things up. It makes us more efficient at work, at consuming, at creating from the whirring treadmill of our own activity. The information flow of modern day life is enough in itself to make things seem like they are happening faster.
There seems to be some evidence that using technology a lot actually impairs judgement of time. I’m f*$ked so. It makes sense; I currently spend much of my day in front of a computer wrestling with code, emerging from the office in the evening surprised at how fast the day seemed to have gone.
I recently shared a list of apps that I currently use and find useful. I genuinely find these apps add value in managing my life here in the hectic scramble of Europe. If I was living on the side of a mountain would they prove so useful?
More importantly, would time seem to pass slower? Yes, I think it would.
Back to Novelty
The late Terence McKenna often spoke with singular eloquence on the idea of novelty and how the digital age and globally-networked meganet is just the latest iteration of this ever-evolving phenomenon.
According to McKenna, time isn’t just measured in time-units, or relatively using Einstein’s equations, but could in fact be measured according to the number of things actually happening in a given period.
Modern day human civilization is a throbbing hive of ever-increasing novelty, intensifying the experience of time. More stuff is happening per moment than ever before, so it feels like time is moving faster.
In the quest for efficiency, we are aligning ourselves to the pulse of a globally-connected hub that we are in ways creating to augment ourselves, and possibly replace us. Artificial Intelligence. It is a machine pulse, and it may not suit us all that well.
The older you are, the more you pick up on this, especially as adapting to the pace of change may get more difficult. I do feel like time is speeding up, whether that is due to me aging or something else who knows. It’s felt, although I cannot objectively prove anything.
For me living simply is related to all this – perhaps it is my wishful attempt to slow things down a little.