Excuse me, have you got the time ?

Is it just me or does time seem to go faster these days ?
No sooner am I starting another week with that resigned Monday morning feeling, than before you know it, it’s Thursday afternoon and I’m starting to think about the weekend.

Thing is, I slept till midday today (it’s a Saturday, not a Monday) and that’s a quarter of the darned thing gone already. It was nice though … I might go back to bed later, now I come to think about it …


Apparently, it’s a “known fact” that time does seem to speed up the older you get, and there are a number of reasons as to why this should be the case. One of them posits the very scientific explanation that the longer you live, the less of a milestone one year seems to be. In other words, time itself is smaller because the way we measure it diminishes with age. For example, when you’re ten to think about something that happened one year ago seems ages because it’s 10% of your entire life up to that point. That’s why kids always correct adults when they say “He’s eight” by adding “Actually, I’m eight and a half, mum!”
That half is a big deal when you’re as young as that. By the time you get into middle age, the yardstick of one year holds less value to us: when you’re 50, a year represents a paltry 2% of your lifetime. You do the math, as they say …

Another theory revolves around first time events. When you’re 5 you go to school for the first time; at 13 you become a teenager; at 17 you can learn to drive; at 18 you can legally drink alcohol and leave home without consent; at 30 everything you do is your own bloody fault, etc … the list goes on. We make bigger, more detailed memories of our first times. Think back now to any of those key events in your life and you’ll find you can vividly recall them a lot more easily than you can the second or third or fifteenth time you did any of them. Try your first car. How was it when you sat behind the wheel and went on your first journey alone ? How about when you lost your virginity ? Now think about the third car you owned, or the fourth person you slept with ?
Not so easy, is it ?
When we repeat events, time after time, the lasting impression is much smaller, much easier to forget. Of course, all this depends on how many cars you’ve driven and how promiscuous you’ve been, so maybe if you’ve only had a handful of cars and two or three lasting relationships, you may not feel the effects as strongly as someone who watches Top Gear religiously and can’t hold down a steady girlfriend.
(Incidentally, those two character traits often show an alarmingly high correlation)

It doesn’t just happen with milestone events in your life, either.
Think about the last holiday you took: remember the first couple of days ? Really leisurely, only half-unpacking before hitting the streets to see the sites ? Waking up late, drinking too much, getting in some serious hours on the sunbed, thinking “Two lovely long weeks of this!” to yourself ? Before you know it, the first week’s gone and you’re already thinking about going back to work. It just flies by …


But wait – hold on a second … psychologists have suggested some ways to deal with the phenomenon: it’s quite literally all about taking time to smell the roses. We should all try to take advantage of new experiences, new places, new activities and sensations. Don’t go to the same pub or restaurant when you go out. Don’t have the same thing every time you order a takeaway. Don’t take the dog along the same old route when you go for a walk. Don’t drive that way home tonight. Go to that other place down the road, the one that’s just reopened. Try Thai instead of Indian tomorrow night. Let the dog lead you for once: follow its nose. Why not switch off your mobile, buy a newspaper and stop for a coffee in that little cafe you always pass and actually let the traffic die down a bit before you go home. Do the crossword. Read the problem page. Try and sit still for a whole minute – see if you can do it. It’s amazing what you notice when you do, especially if your phone’s turned off …

Here’s another one that I personally love: find a really good pen and write a letter to someone you love. When was the last time you did that ? It’s an absolute joy to use a fountain pen and one that most of us have forgotten. Buy some quality notepaper and spend twenty minutes crafting a heartfelt message before taking your time over licking the envelope – how good does that gum taste, by the way – then stroll to the postbox, caress the paper for one last time and then slide it lovingly into the hole …

… okay, maybe I’m getting a bit carried away now, but see how good things become when you take your time ?



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