"I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you any different."
--Kurt Vonnegut

Lifespan And Our Perception of Time

Life can seem all too short. Compared to the length of the universe, it's an eyeblink. But compared to some other things we consider really long lasting: republics and empires, most buildings-- most of us don't do so bad. My grandmother, who turned 80 in 1998, has witnessed over a third of the history of the United States... sure that's just a fraction, and yes the USA is a young country, but consider all the change that she has seen: it is a huge expanse of time. Time is largely subjective. I have a reasonable shot at living longer than my grandmother, and experiencing even more change in the world.

In the book "Faster", Gleick mentions how our perception of time is really a measure of rate of change, driven by the length of time between 'interesting' events. This can lead to some unfortunate results: since, in general, every decade of our life has much less change (in the form of development and maturation) than the one before, by some estimates the second half of our life might seem to go by twice as the first, with the second quarter going twice as fast as the first quarter, etc.

This might be so. I haven't lived long enough to refute it. But I think that if I manage to fill my life with changes: learning, reading, thinking- and keeping track of those changes, I might help to modify my perception.

I think I'm helped by my journal (a quote journal, mostly, though with some 'Dear-Diary' sections, kept up on a PalmPilot that's always with me) as well as my poor memory. My inability to clearly recall things from as short as a week ago- but being reminded by them by the entries in my journal- helps me realize how full of life those ten thousand minutes were, and how full the next ten thousand will be. So much can happen in a minute, if only we stay alert to the wonder around us!