Perry on Time |
by Peary Perry
"When we were children, time passed so
very, very slowly. We thought the end of school would just never get there. How
much further to Grandma’s house? Are we there yet? How many more days is it to
Christmas? Just how long do I have to wait after eating before I can swim?"
“Ok, class….let’s settle down….today’s lesson will be on the ‘Relationship between
time and your age’.” |
“Turn to page 374 in your textbooks and look at
the graph. As you can clearly see for yourselves, the concept of time speeds up
in relationship to your age. For example, look to the left and you will notice
that the younger you are in years, the slower time appears to be passing. Then
looking over at the right hand side of the graph you can see that as you grow
older, time seems to speed up and there seems to be less of it each day.”
This might be a class room discussion that I missed somewhere along the way.
I’ve been known to have missed several, including those on prudent investing and
child rearing, but that’s another story we’ll save for another column.
I think you would agree with my premise concerning time. When we were children,
time passed so very, very slowly. We thought the end of school would just never
get there. How much further to Grandma’s house? Are we there yet? How many more
days is it to Christmas? Just how long do I have to wait after eating before I
can swim? Haven’t I been punished long enough? Do I have to take a long nap? How
much longer until the cookies are done? When will dad be home?
over we’ve looked at time as if it was never ending. An hour seemed like five.
A minute was certainly longer than just sixty seconds. That weekend at your mean
old Aunt Matilda’s house was way longer than just two days. Way longer.
Then something very strange happened to us. Life got in our way. We went to college,
we got jobs, we had babies, and our babies had babies. Time seemed to speed up
and it appeared as if there was just never as much of it as there was before.
We know this is foolish, since all of our days are the same. We each
have twenty four hours, three hundred and sixty five days for the year. It was
the same for us when we were ten years old as it is when we are sixty years old.
Time has not changed, in either length or duration. Our perception of time has
changed due to the increase of activities we shove into it.
When we tell
our children …’Get down here right this minute…’ we aren’t talking about a actual
minute. No, it’s more like so many seconds. When our children say to us…’I’ll
be there in a minute…or can you just give me a minute?’ We need to be cognizant
that we are approaching the same period of time from two entirely different perspectives.
Our kids’ minute is completely different than our minute. Theirs may actually
be more like one hundred and twenty seconds and ours may only be about ten to
fifteen seconds. It all depends on the age of the persons involved. Kids don’t
wear watches; their lives aren’t structured by time as are the days of grownups.
Kids eat because they’re hungry, not because it’s ‘lunchtime’ or ‘dinnertime’.
It’s time for them to eat when they get ready to do so, not like us older folks
who routinely eat at certain times of the day or night.
to look at is the way we consider time when we’re working. If you were a kid working
at some pay by the hour job, as many of us did, the time just passed so slowly.
You could almost count the minutes of each and every hour that you were at work.
Now, flash forward to today. As an adult, forty hours at the office isn’t nearly
enough to get everything done that needs to be finished this week. So, you find
yourself taking work home and over the weekends just to play catch up. Something
that never seems to happen, does it?
As I was writing this it occurred
to me that the simple explanation for all of this is that when we are kids we
just don’t have much stuffed into each twenty-four hour segment, which translates
into time moving very slowly. However, as we grow older and our plates fill up
with more and more things to do, our perception of time is that we have very little
of it on any given day.
I could sit here all day and write about various
examples of time perception during our lifetimes, but try as I might, the only
one that seems to be common to all ages is a boring sermon. No matter what age
you are, young or old, it just goes on for ever and ever and ever.
© Peary Perry
Comments go to firstname.lastname@example.org
From North America - January
1 , 2005 column