The feeling like our life is racing ahead of us is something that I’m fairly certain everyone experiences at one time or another. In the past I have suggested that you spend your childhood trying to make time go by faster and then as an adult you spend your time trying to make it go slower.
The tragedy here is that in both cases you fail, that mad dash to 18 is quite an amazing mistake in the US. The illusion of a greater future and the idea that you’ll be doing something overwhelmingly powerful out the door of your youth is one that entrances millions of kids.
What most people don’t point out is that on the other side of 18 is an army of predatory adults just waiting to devour you whole. It’s unfortunate, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
Yeah! You better change the subject…
I think that what may contribute to our experience of time is the period between interactions and returns. As a child most of our interactions see a nearly immediate return on investment, you get school work on Monday and get schoolwork due for Tuesday. Your next full unit of return is 24 hours, this is compounded by the 6 classes you likely have. This means that each day is full of tasks that need to be completed and the next page of your life flips in a single day. Compare this with being an adult, you have tasks that are due over the course of weeks or months. You get paychecks once or twice a month (perhaps as high as four times). This is a difference on return of as much as 100x and can quite easily be even more than that. As a child if you tried to rush to the next task you’d jump forward a single day, if you rush to the next task as an adult you will be in many cases a couple weeks older.
There are only 52 weeks in the year, you can make this jump 26 times before you are suddenly older.
Each hour twisting closer to the last.
This is a societal construct. We put less value on the input of adults. As a child you can get great returns on minimal investment, the moment you become an adult it takes great swaths of time for most people to see any kind of recognition. It’s jarring, your natural instinct is to try and treat it like a game, to gather the most collections of return and then act on it. The problem is that while a video game character may be eternal, there are only so many sunsets any of us get to see.
I want to test this knowledge. Though I think I already have. The cruise I took felt like it was at least a month long where it was only about a week or two. Each day stretched on for eons and by the end of it I was exhausted by what felt like an eternity away from responsibility.
I want to capture this again, I want to be shocked (and pleased) that it is only Tuesday. Because all too often in my life now I find myself saying “Thursday again? Wasn’t yesterday Monday.” There is only so many times you can play that song before it falls silent. So I suggest to anyone reading this, try and catalog your outputs and returns for a month. See how far apart they are, find ways to fill the void, give your life a multitude of details and layers. Or perhaps not, really if you are comfortable with the speed of your year then you can ignore this. But it would be interesting to see if anything comes from this expansion of time.
Today’s update isn’t totally out of place, seeing as my short story takes place in the vast expanse of space and time I took some time today to reflect on my own time. Which is quite meta, I will admit, and by the end of it I realized that I really want things to slow down. I’ll do what I can to ensure that happens, I suppose. May someday soon be back with details on my success.