Why is it that, the older we get, the shorter time feels? Why is it that a day in your childhood felt like a lifetime while a day in adulthood speeds by? Why does time get faster and faster and faster? It’s all about life context.
According to a post on the Washington Post Wonkblog, time in life is perceived in relationship to the amount of time you have been alive. If you are five years old, you have only lived approximately 1825 days and approximately 44 thousand hours. That’s a lot! But when you are thirty? You’ve lived approximately 11 thousand days and approximately 263 thousand hours. That’s crazy! Your perception of an hour at five years old is soooo long compared to when you are thirty because you’ve lived so many hours.
Here’s how they explain it, with nifty graphics that I’ll let you peruse on the post.
We perceive our first few years to be much longer in duration than the years that come later — as the graphic above this shows. If you measure your life this way, in “perceived” time rather than actual time, half of your “perceived life” is over by age 7. If you factor in the fact that you don’t remember much of your first three years, then half of your perceived life is over by the time you turn 18, Kiener writes.
Interesting, right? I mean, kind of scary and horrible to think about since it reiterates that we all die but good to know nevertheless. In discussing this with a few friends at dinner, we stumbled across something that may help this when mentioning that Bobby and I were going to rearrange our furniture: you should bookmark your life more. What does that mean? Move shit around, move in and out of places, redecorate, etc. Provide places for yourself to remember and catalogue your time.
For example: I have lived in Los Angeles since 2008 and, in the seven years, I have lived in four different places. The first place was a room in my aunt’s house. The second place was a bachelor apartment, which I can divide the time into two distinct eras: the time when I lived there and the time when I didn’t because I spent most of my days in Bobby’s apartment. Within that time, there was a period where I had my dining room table in the middle of the room, a period where the table was by the window, and a period when the table was put away. When Bobby and I moved into our first apartment that we lived in for three years, there was the period where we had our old couch, the period with the new couch, the period where the new couch faced the window, and the period where the new couch faced the door. In our current apartment that we’ve lived in for a year and a half-ish, there is the period with the old couch, the period with the new couch facing the kitchen, and the current period of the new couch facing the window. As you can see, the changes in the mini-geography of our apartment accidentally marked time, bookmarking how we were living. “When was it that Dottie was sick and almost died because of bladder stones?” I may ask myself. “It was when the new couch was facing the door in our Bobby and my first apartment together, not long before we moved,” I’d reply. While I can’t pinpoint the specific date, I can whittle that down in my mind to late 2013 because that was the period before we moved into our current apartment in early 2014.
See? All this time has been elongated because we’ve added in so many ways to remember it. If you leave your interior design the same for too long or simply stay in the same place for too long, everything becomes a blur. Give yourself more opportunity to delineate time by building literal bookmarks in your story. It’s a cheap, easy way to invest in yourself—and an easier way to access memories.