April 14, 2006

A perception about time.

Seconds are short. Minutes are long. Hours are short. Days are long. Weeks are short. Months are long. Years are short. Decades are long. Life is short. Don't you agree?

35 comments:

Evan said...

Very insightful. I might add, "Classes are long. Semesters are short."

chuck b. said...

I love that.

But I have to say, at 36, time is moving way. too. fast. I'm struggling to deal with the fact that it's already 8:49 ri... 8:50 right now.

chuck b. said...

And blogger clocks me in at 10:52.

Aiieeee!!

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ricardo said...

Everything seems longer when you're young, and seems to get shorter as you get older.

Doolesfan said...

I have to disagree with hours being short if I am sitting in Civ Pro class.

Ron said...

Life seems ridiculously long to me...

Maxine Weiss said...

Only 255 days left till Christmas!!!! Of course, I start celebrating when QVC does their "Christmas in July" on July 25th. Yikes, I need to start planning for that.

My Wal-Mart already has their Christmas decorations out. That, or they never put them away.



Peace, Maxine

AllenS said...

I'll be 60 years old in November. September I'll have been retired 7 years. The older you get, the faster time goes by. I can't hardly remember high school at all. I make sure I watch the sun rise every day.

Andy said...

Should we end with "Eternity is long"?

Smilin' Jack said...

I've never heard anyone say time is long. Time is always short.

MWM said...

Secoinds are short when they become minutes. Minutes are short when they become hours. Hours are short when they become days. Everything flys by in retrospection.

Also, nothing is ever as painful in retrospect. Thankfully, we remember the good things.

Charlie Eklund said...

It is said that Europe is 6 or 7 hours ahead of us, that right now, at this exact time, it's 9:45 at night.

How can people live like that?

Dr. Fager said...

Okay, somebody has to say it. Time Is Tight. One of the all time great driving songs.

Brendan said...

Life isn't short. It's the longest thing you'll ever do.

Andrew Yen said...

To those that have mentioned how time seems to take longer when you're young and speed up when you age, well. To be technical . . .

When you are young, like a child, the amount of time a day, week, or even a month takes up in relation to your total time experienced thus far in life is much larger than the same unit of time for an older person who has experienced life much longer.

So a month to a 5 year old would be 1/60th of a life-experience while a month to a 50 year old is 1/600th of a life experience. Naturally a child will think a month is a huge amount while the adult thinks it is a mere drop. So people starting at about 20 years old will start noticing "hey, where has all the time gone".

I know I'm starting to have that feeling, even though I'm 21. 10 years ago I would be in the 5th grade eagerly waiting for the next step up to junior high. It seems like a long time ago, but yet it is only 3652 days ago. Is that really a lot?

For me, the days are long, yet weeks are short. Months are certainly long, yet years go by just like that. Seconds are naturally fast, but minutes and hours can be either fast or slow depending on what you are doing and how much you are enjoying it.

Tempus fugit.

Marghlar said...

Should we end with "Eternity is long"?

No way, dude. That shit just flies right by. You're all, like, man, where'd that eternity go?

---

On the general point -- I think it all depends on your state of mind. I've experienced seconds that seemed like years (e.g., waiting for a jury to finish filing into a room in a case you've worked on). I've had long minutes (waiting for water to boil) and short (trying to get another kitchen task done before stirring something). It all depends on whether you want time to speed up or slow down, and on how active your mind is at the time.

MadJayhawk said...

Life is like a roll of toilet paper: it goes faster when you get to the end of it.

amba said...

Here's a post about time speeding up as you get older. Both the "roll of toilet paper" analogy and Andrew Yen's explanation about the proportions of time to your total life showed up in the comments. I think there's something weirder going on than that, and it has to do with changes in memory and attention.

What I really want to know, though, is, when my car is on a New York parking meter, why one hour is so short and two hours are so long. I can hardly turn around in one hour, but two hours is a long, luxuriant period with plenty of time to do everything I have to do and some to spare.

Ann Althouse said...

Amba: First, about that parking meter: you should just be glad you found one! Second, "I think there's something weirder going on than that, and it has to do with changes in memory and attention."

Yes, I agree! I think the brain is radically different at different ages, and of course that should affect the perception of time. Time goes either fast or slow for me, and I find it very strange! The last 15 years seem to have just slipped by in one great leap. Yet there was a 20 minute period at a meeting today when I was looking at the clock every two minutes and it would not move. The feeling of time is very much affected by my emotional state. And I've felt different at different times. I think when you are older, you feel much happier and more serene than younger people can possibly imagine. When you are young, you suffer over everything. That and a million other things affect the perception of time.

Maxine Weiss said...

If time is moving that slowly, there's always this:

www.maxinesplace.blogspot.com

Peace, Maxine

Dr. Fager said...

I grew up in the Trenton/Princeton area. I knew a housepainter who happened to have painted Einstein's house.

He claimed to have had a conversation with Einstein about relativity (it's mind boggling to ponder this). He said Einstein explained relativity thusly; if your sitting on a park bench kissing your girlfriend a minute is a short time. If your sitting on a hot stove a minute is an exceedingly long time.

Ann Althouse said...

Clearly, pain lengthens time, but not in a good way. You want to savor life, and have it feel long, but if it is only pain that slows things down, you'd have to wish for a quick life. What a dilemma! I think there are ways of paying attention to the good that make time pass slowly. The great difficulty is our failure to notice the good enough to slow down time.

Susan Constanse said...

the passage of time
measured by experience
of tasks and events

Alan Kellogg said...

A world class chef was once asked to cook a particular dish. He pondered the question for awhile, then checked out his supply of spices.

After ponder the collection for a bit he turned to the fellow and said, "Sorry, I don't have thyme for it."

Nancy said...

On my daughter's fifth birthday, I certainly agree.

downtownlad said...

Time is relative. The last five years will go by quicker than the previous five years.

My father says it doesn't slow down. It keeps getting faster.

twwren said...

Ann:

It's Easter. I am surprised that no one wrote...salvation, eternal life is long.

amba said...

Fascinating, the idea that time goes slowly when we're young because we're suffering!

And you do notice every grueling detail of your suffering, when you're young.

Frank said...

Sounds about right, but, as a digitial engineer, a second might as well be a decade as pertains to my craft.

Ann Althouse said...

Amba: Yes, and it's not just that being a child is full of suffereing. It is that time is an enemy that inflicts suffering. A child is constantly prevented from doing things because it's not time yet. You're not old enough, or you need to wait for some adult to take you somewhere, or you must stay in a classroom. These are all things that say concentrate on the passage of time before you can have a pleasure. This makes time seem like the enemy. When time does pass quickly, you don't care, because you want it to get out of the way so you can finally be free.

As adults, we see time as a friend. We're always looking for time, trying to get some time, and when we find it, we see it as the essence of freedom: free time.

alj said...

"Time is a lawyer's stock in trade."

A. Lincoln

HaloJonesFan said...

I've often found that my perception of an interval as "long" or "short" depends on the units used to describe it. Smaller units will often make me think of an interval as "shorter", even if it's the same length. "60 minutes" sounds like less time than "one hour".

It's probably because of precision. When I say "60 minutes", there seems to be an unspoken "...as opposed to 59 or 61 or 48 or 74.5". On the other hand, "one hour" could mean anything up to ninety minutes.

P. G. said...

Weekend days are short.

A. J. Pate said...

Perhaps not relevant to anything, but this dialogue reminded me of a favorite quote:

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
- William Blake
"Auguries of Innocence"

In a stream-of-consciousness, this then led to recall of Bob Dylan's beautiful song, "Every Grain of Sand".