Perspective: The Days Are Long, But The Years Are Short

Apr 19, 2019

Why does time crawl or fly? Is it always because we are bored or having fun? 

As we age, we feel that time zips by. This past winter feels like a blur now that the sun warms my back. But isn’t this just how I process the past? I perceive last winter as quick, but while I was in it, time crawled in its petty pace as snow sealed me indoors. 


Time flies when we age due to the power of suggestion. The “now” is likely perceived equally by young and old. That older folks find it swift has more to do with how they interpret past passages of time, not the feeling of time passing in the present.  


Researchers surmise that time perception is also linked to size. A fly sees a hand coming toward it in slow motion and easily flies away. 


As far as we know, the brain does not keep time like a computer does—rather, it only times its own perception of the world. But don’t we have precise circadian rhythms? French geologist Michael Siffre intended to spend two months in a cave deprived of daylight to see what happened with his perception of time. Timing himself by sleep cycles, he emerged after three, and not two months, having perceived time to have passed much faster.  


It may be mysterious, but childhood is definitely shorter from a parent’s point of view than from a child’s. The days are long but the years are short. 


I'm Bill Gahan, and that's my perspective.