OKAY. THAT DIDN’T TAKE VERY LONG. The year 2018 came, dropped off its heavy load of shocks, awes, and a few meager pickings of pleasant surprises, and then was out of here like a late-season buck at the sound of an errant twig snap.
In other words, where did the year go? 2018 seemed noticeably shorter than 2017, and 2017 shorter than its predessecor (and not just because 2016 was a leap year). What the heck is going on? Should we be freaking out? Are we spiralling toward the sun so that the seasons, the months, and the days are spinning by us ever faster?
Nah. If anything, the expanding universe theory says the opposite is happening.
So, it’s all in our imagination then. Or more specifically, in our perceptions.
As we get older, each year definitely seems to speed up. One theory attributes this to our relative perception—the longer we live, we have more comparative time to relate to; a day to a sixty year old is a tiny fraction of the percentage represented by the same day to a five year old. Another says that how we perceive time is based on our ability to catalog new experiences. When we’re younger, new experiences are all over the place. Our shiny new brains are constantly bombarded by external stimuli as they are being filled with memories that are unique and more likely to leave a mark on the days when we experienced them. The older we get, we start glossing over all the routine business that we pass through, day after day, focusing only on those special events that make new impressions. It’s kind of like driving the same road to work every day so that we could do it while sleeping (don’t try this). We only take note of the route when we see that something is new or has changed, like an interesting new restaurant or, more likely, when some idiot in the Highway Dept. orders a work crew to stop traffic during the peak rush. When there are fewer new experiences that stand out, each day filled with repetitious experiences tends to blur into the hundreds (then the thousands and the tens of thousands) of days just like it.
This all makes a certain amount of sense, but it can’t be all there is to this time-jump sensation.
Technology very likely also plays a part. Our seven-year-old grandson, who knew more about the features of an iPhone at age two than we do even now, made the remark recently that, “Wow. Today sure went by fast.”
We can’t imagine making such a comment at age seven, even during summer vacation, which never seemed to have enough days assigned to it. But the way today’s world works, even kids seem to be caught up in the grind of repetition and run-on days. Much of their time is spent glued to the screens on which they play video games over, and over, and over, and (short bathroom break) over. We’re sure there are many layers of complexity to at least some of these games but to us they seem like a repetitive exercise of bouncing orbs and irritating bleeps. Over and over and over (okay, three bites of lunch) and over again. This has had to lead to some short-circuiting of the normal development of time-perception. If seven-year-olds wonder where their days went, what are they going to feel like when they are forty?
As the world spins at perceptably faster and faster RPMs, we’re all going to need solid hand-holds to keep from flying off into the deep space of chaos and mental stress fractures—and so are our kids.
One of the best hand-holds we can think of is the handle of a fishing rod, or the stock of a hunting rifle, or the grip of a bow. Technology has certainly invaded the worlds of fishing and hunting, but even with all the high-tech gadgets that can be applied to the sports, if you’re going to experience them, you still have to get out there and do it.
And if you’ve caught a thousand largemouth bass, or speckled trout, or bagged that many dove or tagged limits of whitetails season after season, those experiences never seem to blur. There is a thrill in every experience, each one worth savoring. And, they all add up to a lifetime of cherished memories.
This New Year will pass even faster than 2018. Make a resolution to grab on to one of those safety grips and hang on tight.
Then make sure to wrap the small fingers of your kids and grandkids around them, too.