1500: Reflections on Time

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 10:55 PM

This is post 1,500 here on asisaid. In another month, asisaid will turn eight years old, indicating I have spent 30.4% of my life blogging. Year wise, that is — I have not spent thirty percent of my life entering blog entires! While I may not be the most prolific blogger, somehow 1,500 posts and eight years feels like it indicates I am one in the blogosphere for the long haul.

This seems like a good segue into a subject I have been thinking about: the progression of time and the subjective “feel” of time's wing chariot flapping forward. It must be something to do with the experiencing of longer and longer periods of time that slowly makes the distance between one time and another seem shorter. I find it hard to believe, for example, that 2004 was six years ago already.

I was thinking back to 2004 a few weeks ago when how long ago it really was jarred me for a moment. I tried to imagine myself in 2004 thinking six years back, back to 1998. Ninety Eight, or any of the 90's for that matter, seemed exponentially farther back if I thought about something related to them in 2004 than 2004 seems now. It is almost as if some mysterious threshold occurred that year that made every year after it seem more similar to me than those in the past ever seemed.

It is not that the last six years have been monotonous to me, there have been some significant peaks and valleys in the last 72 months. In that time, I switched majors from MIS to English Literature (cementing myself as a literature guy), graduated college, started and progressed three quarters of the way through seminary, made many friends, loss touch with others, mourned the loss of family members, been forced out of a church, joined a wonderful new church, gotten published in a number of venues, switch computing architectures twice and operating system families once and a whole host of other things, good, bad and ugly. In many ways, they have been the years I have most clearly sensed God's leading and also the years I have most questioned if I am on the right track for fear of having missed a turn.

Conventional wisdom says that time moves faster as one grows older. But, why is that? I wonder if it has something to do with changes in the way one makes progress as one ages. In 1998 I likely would not have thought or been able to do everything I did in 2004. On the other hand, while I have the benefit of more years under my belt now than I did in 2004, very few things I am doing today seem like things I could not have done in 2004. Unlike the difference between 1998 and 2004, it seems to me that most of what I would approach differently if I had 2004 to do over again are the sorts of things one would do differently simply because one has seen the completion of events, not so much that I have an entirely different perspective.

If anything, the things I am doing now are things that I thought a lot about doing back in 2004 when I made the big switch and threw out the “safety” plan of MIS as a permanent career if the whole seminary thing did not happen.

I digress. As I think about it and try to reconstruct my mind as it existed in 2004 and 1998, I think my theory makes sense. It makes sense that the difference between 14 and 20 is greater than 20 and 26. If this theory is right, I wonder: in another two years, for example, will looking back eight years seem as brief as looking back six does now? That is, will the period of time that does not seem all that long ago have the same beginning point, now enveloping eight years rather than six?

That would, perhaps, explain the sensation that time not only seems to go faster as one grows older, but that it does so in an accelerated fashion.

The way we as human beings recognize the progression of time fascinates me. I do not have any grand conclusions on the subject — not yet anyway. Maybe when asisaid turns sixty eight I can offer something concrete.

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