Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Time Flies

Is it 5p already? One of the things I despise about aging is how time seems to fly by faster and faster with each year. Because of the age correlation, it's easy to suspect age / time ratios (e.g., 1 year is 1/8 of an 8-year old's life, and 1/35th my current), but tend to believe it has more to do with being a goal-oriented adult. I think the more goal-oriented you are, the faster time flies.

I've always been curious about events in life that dilate time, and there a few examples that stand out, though all are anecdotal. The first was taking a three-month leave of absence from work in '94 or '95 to return to my homeland, Hawaii, and decide whether to stay there or return to work in Utah. I had no other goals, and it felt like I was there for more like a year. (I decided to come back and try the game-thing, if you were curious.)

I've also noticed that planned vacations go by much faster than vacations with little-to-no planning. As a result, I tend to only like planning options for vacation, and making decisions on the fly on which to pursue. And even that approach goes by more quickly than having no plan whatsoever.

Finally, I've noticed that when I decide to travel to a location (on foot or by wheels) along a route I've never taken before, time also seems to dilate.

I presume the reason is because your mind wanders to details (many things) instead of staying locked on a goal (one, or a few things). And wow did last year fly by. This year has been, too. I described the sensation once as being like "the scroll bar on a browser window," because grabbing the bar and scrolling from top to bottom happens swiftly, but the amount of detail there, if you stop to take a look, is staggering. I wonder if there are any books on the subject, or simply other takes.


  1. This isn't completely about time dilation but interesting anyway. You should check out "The Mind and the Brain" by Jeffrey M. Schwartz. he used experiments with OCD patients to explore the concept of free will as an entity existing separate from the mechanical brain, and suggestions of how this "mind" interacts with the cruder mechanics of the brain itself. He explains how memory and consciousness rely on interactions between the computer-like brain and the independent mind, and how mental pathways take shape based on experience. He even uses quantum physics to attempt possibilities on how the mind and the brain interact. It's a fascinating read and suggests interesting possibilities with stuff like how we percieve time and even what we are capable of---as more complex creatures than scientists and psychologists believed possible.

    Also, I like un-planned vacations better too. Too much planning just increases your stress.

  2. Thanks for the book links Sam; I love stuff on the brain. I love reading about things that make consciousness seem more like an illusion -- tacked onto our instincts -- than a driving force in our lives. I think if I had to think consciously about every action I made, I just might be able to make it out of my front door by the end of the day. Maybe...

  3. Another book I enjoyed -- that Mike T. bought for me forever ago -- that lets you perform activities to destroy the illusion is http://www.amazon.com/Mind-Hacks-Tricks-Using-Brain/dp/0596007795/

  4. I was always fascinated by the fact that the brain is the only organ trying to figure itself out.