“Time is making fools of us again.” – Albus Dumbledore
The most constant factor in my life has been the exponential increase in the passage of time as I get older. Everyone experiences it. We spend our youth waiting for the next exciting adventure. Lamenting the crawling pace of each minute until we reach the moment we’ve been waiting for, only to watch it slip away in a flash. One would hope this phenomenon would alleviate itself with age, but it doesn’t. In fact, it only intensifies, as even the mundane activities in life pass us by in the blink of eye. What I want to know is why.
Theory 1 Time is Relative
L.L. Cool J’s description of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity in the movie Deep Blue Sea gives probably the best argument for this idea. Basically, the things we desire pass by in what seems like seconds, while those we don’t drag on forever. Which, as anyone who ever rode in a car anywhere as a child can understand, counting down time prolongs it immensely. Inversely, as the crowds of Harry Potter fans who waited in line for the final film of the series can attest, the things we enjoy most are over before we know it. While this explains the fleeting nature of life’s high points, it does not account for the perceived increase in the speed of time as we age.
Theory 2 Freedom is the Enemy of Time
Childhood is a time of innocence. A time where the world seems like a mysterious place filled with all the opportunity one could possible imagine. Its also a time of immense limitations on one’s personal freedom. We are governed by a myriad of rules we either don’t understand or don’t agree with, sometimes both. As we get older we gain more independence to do the things the way we want to do them. With this increase in discretion the secrets of life, that at one time seemed so unobtainable, become another enjoyable experience hitting the gas on life’s ever decreasing clock.
Theory 3 With Great Responsibility Comes Less Time
Perhaps the reason time gets away from us as we get older, is that we merely find more activities to fill it with. As a young kid, our greatest concerns are whether we are going to be able to navigate the lava that has mysteriously replaced the living room floor. As we progress through life we add more responsibility: school, jobs, friendships, relationships, saving princesses, etc. This responsibility forces us to think ten steps ahead making time seem like its slipping away at an accelerated pace. Before we know it, we are on a porch somewhere hoping our entire lives have merely been some sort of Inception-like dream sequence we are waiting to wake up from and start over.
Time will no doubt continue to accelerate as life progresses. The relativity of time is no doubt further complicated by the freedoms and responsibilities we accumulate through life. There are no doubt countless factors contributing to the time loss, plenty of which we may never understand (like a disturbance in the force for example). We could spend our lives lamenting this uncontrollable time flow, hoping for the day when we finally get our hands on the flux capacitor we have been waiting for. Or we can embrace the impermanence of our existence and seize every moment like it could be the last so when we get to the end of life’s grand expressway we are ready for what comes next.