by Julia Buckley
If you Google a phrase like "Time is Accelerating" you'll get all sorts of interesting results. Some science sites suggest this is actually true, especially the farther you are from the earth's surface (therefore, theoretically, time would pass more quickly upstairs than downstairs). Another science site suggested that the "earth's pulse" was increasing, that it was currently at twelve, and when it reached thirteen it would stop and reverse direction.
Hmm. None of that really helped with my dilemma of why my weekends always disappear before I complete my required tasks--not to mention how my whole year disappears before I realize that a whole year has actually gone by.
I found a more workable solution at Psychology Today, which suggested that my perception of time is just that--my perception--and that aging makes me perceive it differently because I have fewer "firsts" in my life to make time seem to stand still, or to make moments last forever.
According to Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D, time can seem distorted around big life events--that is, things can appear long at the beginning, but then seemingly accelerate to a quick end, as in a long vacation. On day one, Riggio asserts, the vacation seems eternal. But then time seems to accelerate and the end is there before one knows it.
He suggests that this is partly due to perception and attitude, and that in order to combat this feeling of accelerating time, one must maintain positivity. As a teacher, I see this phenomenon with students and teachers and the notion of summer vacation. In May and June, summer seems endless and vacation seems long. But the minute July comes along, a dread creeps in: soon it will be August, and with August comes the return to school. It actually affects the quality of enjoyment of these weeks off, and it is a self-inflicted punishment.
Riggio says that we should bring all elements of time together in our positive mindset, focusing only on happy memories of the past, living in the present as much as possible, and holding a pleasing and optimistic view of the future.
Probably easier said than done, but certainly a good mantra to help combat the accelerating time phenomenon. It is, after all, in the way one thinks, and I tend to think in panic mode, as in "I don't have enough time!"
Perhaps I need to take a page from Riggio's book and try to enjoy the present moment, letting the future take care of itself. This is a difficult task for a type-A, achievement-centered personality, but I think it's a healthier attitude in the long run.
Do you ever feel that time is accelerating? That your years are tumbling by more rapidly than they once did? And what, if anything, do you do to combat the feeling?