Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Time flies when you're old enough to see the obvious.

As you’ve gotten older you probably noticed that time seems to be picking up speed, as if it were trying to leave you in the dust. Do you ever stop to think that maybe it’s just you trying to return to the dust?

Admit it! Things aren’t like they were when you were a kid. Back in the day there was time enough for everything. Those were the days when the hardest things you did were to learn to do the things you now take for granted; tie your shoes, tell time, read and write, the multiplication tables, stuff like that.

Back in the day, time slowed to a crawl as you fidgeted your way through the school day, hurried out to play, then struggled to get your homework done in time to watch an hour of television before your nine o’clock bedtime. The school year seemed to last forever, but when summer vacation finally came, it lasted long enough that by the time the new school year started, the previous year was only a distant memory.

Those were the days when you didn’t have to stop to smell the roses. You could smell them as you pedaled by on your bicycle, just as easily as you could smell the dog shit squished between your toes as you raced, barefooted, across the yard, or the aroma of fresh-baked cookies wafting from the open kitchen window as you played catch with a friend. You didn’t have to stop to do anything. Only rarely did you even slow down.

Whatever happened to those good old days, anyway? Today, it seems as if your plate is always full. Too full. You plod along, knowing that whatever remains on your plate from today gets added to your plate for tomorrow, ensuring that you won’t finish tomorrow’s tasks, either. The backlog builds; the days grow shorter.

The sun comes up, you blink a few times, go through a few motions, and then the sun goes down. There never seems to be enough time, in one day, to do all the things you have to do. But, there’s always tomorrow.

Few people who have entered into middle age will argue the point; most people agree that as they age, time seems to speed up. One day blurs into the next and pretty soon another year is gone.

I think Einstein’s theory of relativity adequately explains this time distortion phenomenon. I’m pretty sure that in there somewhere he postulated that time slows down as one moves faster through space.

The answer is simple, then. Kids move faster than aging adults do, so time goes by slower. Aging adults are slower than kids are, so time goes by in a rush.

It’s all relative.