Does Time Seem To Go Faster As We Age?

On first reflection, time does seem to pass more quickly as we age. I’m 67, and time seems to go faster now than when I was younger. As a child a day in school seemed to take forever, but so too did summer vacation. As an old professor, a school year seems to fly by. When I was a kid I thought something twenty years ago was prehistoric, now twenty years ago was 2002. And 2002 seems downright futuristic compared to the 1960s I remember.

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8 thoughts on “Does Time Seem To Go Faster As We Age?

  1. As for me the motion of time is the same always. But, it seems faster as we grow older by counting years behind. I think it is due to our eagerness to see longer years and enjoy increased fortunes in this life, rather than longing life in the future World, which after Death. Since, I am evangelical believer I believe time’s motion is constant and our age continues growing older and older in the same motion.

  2. Hello, Professor:
    I have been thinking about this. Since we are telling, I am 74. Time is a concept, a measuring stick, instilled in us from the time we can grasp the installation…see, we can’t even talk about it, without talking about it. It measures worth and filling it, in some productive way, earns us a living—if we are lucky. It is only a concept. Things, living or inanimate, exist for some period and go away. In my story, they break down, blow up, fall apart and wear out. The first three causations are often repairable, the last, not so much. We use metaphorical language when talking about much of this, i.e., “it has stood the test of time”…if the “it” has , through all this, been restored, that only substantiates a previous point.
    There will always BE time, metaphorical or no…we have to have the measuring stick. And, yes, it seems to go faster for us now. In reality, however, it ‘goes’ nowhere at all.

  3. Very interesting post. My views remain essentially unchanged, as I wrote in my other comments, i.e. I cannot identify with most of the experiences the researchers mention, for example when my ‘cognitive skills’ are more involved, time definitely goes faster for me; conversely, when I a bored (no ‘cognitive skills’ are involved) time seems to go slower. Most of the rest was already explained by Schopenhauer, and I feel he even explained something the researchers did not (though of course I cannot be sure, since I have not read their books), for example, when we are ten years old, five years feel essentially like half of our life, but when we are fifty, doesn’t it feels rather like a tenth of it? This is what Schopenhauer explained, and I feel there’s something to it. I am not saying that S has the last word about everything, but I don’t feel like these researchers might have it, either. I continue to be shocked by the passage of time, and it seems it becomes more and more violent.

    It is ironic, to me, that the researchers speak of illusions. Their advice is well meant, but simplistic…..trying to learn a new language won’t slow down time, or slow down our perception of it going faster, whichever is the right answer.

    Interestingly, S wrote about this in one of his last letters. He was constantly learning until the very end, and wrote about how he didn’t have the time to open a book that the day would already be over.

    Frankly, this is exactly my experience. I try to wake up at dawn, and a little while later, the sun is setting already.

    Perhaps it also depends from one’s personality? We observe from time to time someone who seems to take their sweet time for most things, whilst we feel like there’s never enough time. I remember a passage in an excellent autobiography by former F1 champion Niki Lauda, when he went to meet someone for some business related matters. I don’t remember the exact words but he wrote something like this:

    ”I just could not understand it. I was waking up early in the morning to get immediately to work, and always felt that there was some unfinished business by the time the day ended. Yet this man asked me to meet him while fishing. He said that he like to go fishing regularly, and he did everything as if he had all the time in the world to do it.”.

    I observe people like that too, for example these chaps walking VERY slowly. This amazes me. They seem to be ok whether they need 15 minutes to walk a distance that would take a fifth of the time.

    Perhaps our awareness of time has something to do with our perception of it going faster. After all, the younger we were, the less we were aware of time and all that ‘hidden stuff’. We were too busy with the appearances of the world around us, something S also explained.

    I apologize about my constantly mentioning S. He’s as annoying as he was when he was around. 🙂

    Thank you so much for your essay!

  4. There’s a reason why a new born baby welcomes in the New Year while an elderly gent exits. Youth looks forward with dreams of love and challenges to come…and it can’t come quick enough for them, thus their impatience and the sense of slowness with the track they are on. Imagine my bewilderment when I turned 21 and didn’t suddenly become omniscient. There’s not a lot of future left for those of us aging. Death is not something any of us are looking forward to. That is why I follow the author’s suggestion of learning something new. Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, I will take new paths on my daily walks, perhaps that path least traveled. Surprises still thrill me.

  5. thanks for the thoughtful comments. As for S, you saved a lot of time not writing his name each time:) But I’ve always thought he is a very underrated philosopher.

  6. ”As for S, you saved a lot of time not writing his name each time:)”

    Ha ha. No kidding. My writing is as awkward as the mouthful ‘S’ stands for. :).

  7. Whether or not it is an illusion, I am trapped in it, and it never ceases to feel real. It is actually very strange how it is all described in the striking song “Time” by Pink Floyd:

    ” And you run, and you run to catch up with the sun, but it’s sinking
    Racing around to come up behind you again
    The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older
    Shorter of breath, and one day closer to death
    Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time”

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