When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. 

But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute —  and it’s longer than any hour.

That’s relativity.

— Albert Einstein

Where did this summer go?  Holy cow it went by fast …

Does it seem to you like every year goes by faster than the last?

It does to me… and I understand this feeling cuts across ethnicity, culture, hemisphere… seems it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are.  Everyone senses it.

Why? I’ve often wondered.  Seems no one is really sure!

Of course there are theories.

One is that our early memories are largely memories of “firsts” — our 8th birthday, our first kiss, our first time driving, first day at school, first job, etc. etc.  Our brains capture these novel experiences with rich detail, so when we play them back, we’re tricked into thinking they lasted longer than they really did.

This theory is not compelling to me.  It might have something to do with my poor memory.

Then there’s the “Aging Brain” theory of why time goes faster.  As we age, something changes in our brains and we lose the ability to measure time accurately.  It’s like each of us have a clock in our brain, and the clock starts slowing down ever so slightly.

The results of a simple experiment are cited in support of this theory.  When people of all ages are asked to close their eyes and feel the duration of a minute, and they note when they think one minute has passed, younger folks guess the minute pretty much right on — 55, 60 or 65 seconds — but older folks were more like 90 seconds on average…

So, as we age, our brain slows down, and as a result, the world — relative to the perceptions being produced by our aging brain — appears to be going faster.

Hmmmm.  This theory gives me pause.  Only for a minute though.  Okay okay, maybe 90 seconds… 🙂

(By the way, I hate that I can relate to this theory.)

Moving on, there’s also the “How Long Have You Been Alive?” explanation.

When you’re 6, two years is a third of your life.  But when you’re 63, the same exact two years is one-thirty-second of your life.  So, relative to your lifespan, each year is proportionally smaller, making it feel like it passes proportionally quicker…

Yeah, this one too hits home.

And then there’s Einstein.  When you’re having a good time, time flies.  When you’re not …

I must have had a great summer!

In fact, I did.


Adapted from Why Does Time Fly As We Get Older, NPR.