Time is discriminatory, ageist even. It takes forever when you’re a kid; and flies with increasing velocity as you age. Scientists and psychologists who’ve studied this phenomenon propose various theories for the disparity. Most agree, though, that it is not our imagination. The older we get, the faster time passes. Researchers call it “the subjective acceleration of time with aging,’” explained writer Mary Jo DiLonardo in an old Scripps Howard News Service article (3-6-94).
One simple theory noted in her article is that as we age, each year becomes a smaller fraction of our life. At 10 years old, for example, a year is one-tenth (10 percent) of our life so far. At 50, a year is only one-fiftieth (2 percent) of our life; at 100, one-hundredth. It really does seem time flies as we age; as though our mode of travel’s thruster evolves from propeller to jet engine.
“Relativity” offers another reason why time flies with age. Einstein showed us mathematically that what we observe depends on where we stand in space and time. Consider how our mobility and pace of movement change as we grow older. Our gait slows at the very least. Use of canes, walkers and wheelchairs further decreases motion. From the vantage point of idling, shuffling or sitting, motion around us appears to accelerate and zoom by. Conversely, energetic children in constant motion perceive life around them to be comparatively slower.
Fortunately, the time of our lives is predictable. It moves forward, perpetually, and waits for no one. Literally, time is humankind’s single greatest equalizer. No matter how much wealth, intelligence or fun you have, time still moves with the same seconds, minutes, hours, days and years.
Our only advantage is to make the most of the ride, to relish every moment of the life-time continuum — at every speed and age. The goal as we essentially conduct our own longitudinal study, or real-time practical research, is the prove the hypothesis that you’re as young as you feel, and only as old as the time you waste.