The Illusion of Time
As children, a day seems like a year, yet as adults, a year rushes by in what seems like a single day. Have you ever wondered why this phenomenon occurs? I find myself contemplating it more and more lately, perhaps another symptom of that ever-present quarter life crisis.
To answer the question that so many have asked – “Where has all the time gone?” – I’ve been reading a few articles to understand a little bit more about this strange bend in perception. It’s almost as if the more years we collect inside of ourselves, the faster we move through time, like a nitro boost inside of us. According to a few scientists at the University of California, recorded in Scientific American, it’s exactly like that. We tend to encode new knowledge and skills into our memory and discard the familiar, meaning that because we have so many more new experiences during childhood and young adulthood as it feels like time is longer than our more routine and mundane adulthood.
I find it refreshing that once again my tendency toward the non-traditional has been reaffirmed; by breaking away from the usual office/corporate lifestyle, the lack of routine and continuance of new experience throughout my adulthood can extend the perception of my time, my life.
It makes me wonder if this is, in fact, what is behind Alzheimer’s and similar diseases. We are told to play crosswords and Sudoku to keep our minds engaged and enable ourselves to both recall and create new memories, however, would these not also become routine after a while? Would it not be better for us to continue to engage in the world instead of passively living life in a chair with only the confining boxes inside a puzzle book for company?
We train ourselves to be a “member of society,” waking up in the morning, working all day, eating lunch and dinner at the same time, and to bed when night descends. Perhaps I had it wrong, rather than adding more energy with the passing of years, instead we take it away. While we shape ourselves into the puzzle pieces of society, rather than having a fluidity of motion, the ability to jump from place to place on the puzzle board, we instead drop ourselves into one rigid place. With each routine we add to our life, our bodies become more robotic, our minds more computed, unable to remember what it is like to live as humans as time contracts around us.
Each philosophical question that lingers in my mind only serves as a reminder that I made this choice for a reason. I have left the corporate world and its routines behind so that I may find new parts of myself each day; with each new experience a trigger to another part of my brain. I refuse to let the confines of society stiffen my soul.