- Education and Science
How Getting Older Is Even Worse Than You Thought
So Here's the Deal...
Do you remember all those afternoons as a kid when you felt that the sun would never go down? You and the neighborhood kids would play touch football for what seemed like an eternity until your lame parents made you come home for supper. Did you know that science explains that those afternoons were, in fact, an eternity? (Relatively speaking, of course)
According to the cognitive hypothesis of logtime, days get shorter as you age. It sounds like (and kind of is) a bummer, but I'm going to try my damnedest to keep this article upbeat, which is why I've chosen to only use photos of kittens and puppies for the rest of this article.
A Simple Explanation
So it's your birthday. You get off from work and go have drinks with your friends. A few family members and close friends get you a card or necktie, and there you have it. Finally, as quickly as it started, your birthday is over. We all realize that things weren't always like this. When we were young, our birthdays were extravaganzas. I just turned six years old, dammit. I deserve one hundred people to congratulate me for this feat. Granted, we begin to care less about our birthday because, first of all, we have one literally every year. It gets kind of old. Also, every year, our birthday arrives a bit earlier due to our perception of time.
Let's just say that you have just sprung into existence at this very instant. You're now one second old, now two, three, and so on. Once you've lived for twenty-four hours, you are a full day old. Easy enough so far, right?
We move on to the next day. You've lived forty-eight hours (i.e. two days). As logical beings, humans want to categorize larger ideas into smaller groups. This is why we'll simply call 168 hours a single week. Meanwhile, we know that we have actually lived for that span of time the entire while. So, back to your two-day-old self. Now that you've experienced the time span of two full days, one day is half of your existence. At the same time, though, just yesterday, a day was your entire existence. Your perception of a day has just been cut in half. This perceptual fallacy persists throughout the rest of your life.
Keeping Track of the Phenomenon
Now that I have informed you that every day you live is literally half as long as your last one (relatively), apply this to your current life. While you're reading a little article written by a semi-psychotic graduate student (ladies?), your life is slowly picking up speed. While the earth continues to spin and allow Jersey Shore to be on television, things just are. For instance, when your parents brought you home from the hospital (or backseat of a Volvo, whichever) for the first time after your birth, your life begins to become established.
Your parents are now your parents and your home is now your home. It is your starting point. Emphasis: it is YOUR starting point, not your parents' or home's starting point. Those things existed far before you showed up. Of course, you don't realize any of this because you are a whiny little baby at this point, but your parents sure as hell realize this. That's why parents will attempt to continue their daily routine that includes things like hours and sleep. As they "try," you will cry, poop, pee, and cry some more. Why? Quite simply, to your little infant mind, these evil beings that ripped you from that comfy womb have locked you into a crib and left you for an eternity.
You have no perception of time or anything like it because you haven't yet lived a day (or even know what a day is). As you grow and assimilate into what most people refer to as "a society," we accept the norms on the passage of time, but the perception of it never changes.
Is There a Silver Lining?
These perceptions are what cause us to close our eyes as a thirty-year-old and open them when we're forty. Granted, there are many, many other factors that affect our perception of time. One reason that has also been proposed is the aspect of memories. Obviously, every memory you have is of when you were younger (unless, of course, you're Dr. Manhattan), but ask an older person about his/her favorite memories. Other than the birth of children and grandchildren, how much do they talk about their full adult lives? Also, how much do they reminisce about those "good ol' days" of adolescence, high school, and college?
Along the same lines, think of your last vacation. Now examine the passage of time preceding and following that vacation. How slowly did the days pass by leading up to your departure? How have the days flown by since? Even while your days mathematically shorten inevitably, your experiences will also shape your perceptions of time.
So here's the silver lining surrounding these grim facts: we can regulate our own perceptions of time. Most simply, by simply living with the knowledge that time is fleeting can adjust your feel for time. By simply reading this article, you intuitively have begun to think about how you personally perceive time. Try to not dwell on those memories you hold up as superior. Instead, create new ones. Your life isn't over at thirty years, so why should your favorite experiences end there? Keep living a life you choose to, and your own memories can help slow down time (relatively, of course).
Also, here's one more puppy photo...