“Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.” — Marcus Aurelius
Time often seems short to me lately – too much to do and far too little time to get it done. But then, why should this now be any different?
And the overarching theme, as we age, is that time does seem somehow to get away from us more easily – if only we could take back those years that we spent in childhood wishing away our childhoods. We become adults, we become parents, and we wish that there was more time in a day, in a week, in a lifetime.
But why is the question. How are perception of time can shift so radically as we age. The ‘father of psychology’, William James, posited that it was because there are fewer “firsts” to experience as we get older, but I’ve always suspected that the knowledge of our own mortality plays a part. There have, however been a few studies done over the years that, surprisingly, seem to indicate that our perception of time may not change as we age, but instead, it has more specifically to do with feeling of something called “time pressure” – in other words, if, at any age, we feel deadlines hanging over our heads (of any type), we feel time moving quickly at that point. Not surprising, really. It may be more apparent as we age, though because the feeling of entire decades racing by are similarly based on how pressured we felt for a majority of that time. So when I look back at a multi-decade career, and it feels like it flew past me, it’s because a) the job itself often had a great deal of pressure, and b) I raised a family while doing it. There was always something that needed my time. Of course, based on that thinking, time, when I finally do retire, will start to drag – except when I look back…
Sometimes, though, I just prefer Albert Einstein’s comments on time:
“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”
Image of the sloop Clearwater in the Hudson between the Walkway Over the Hudson and the Mid-Hudson Bridge.