Growing older feels like time is catching up with me

Dear Bloggers,

I was sitting down tonight and my thoughts were about life again and how lucky I should consider myself, I have a great family and the girls are growing up faster as I thought. Even though I am enjoying every moment of all the situations that occur and the things they do discuss with us and the things that keep them busy. But also the music they are listening to (some of the songs I never heard before).

Although it is a widely accepted that, "The older you get, the faster time seems to go." But why should aging have this effect? After all, there is the parallel that says, "Time flies when you are having fun." But as we age, time flies whether we are having fun or not.

Question is of course, what's going on?
I have recently been trying to understand this question, because for the past several years many of my days have been extremely long, yet the years still seem to be accelerating.

To tackle the problem, I did an Internet search to see what others were saying on the subject. Nearly all the returns had to do with parenting. "Oh, they grow up so fast. The days are long, but the years are short." This is perhaps a partial explanation; however, since the questioning started, I figured out that it occurs just as well to people who have no children, it cannot be the whole answer.

Some other comments had to do with getting religion. "I found God at the age of 30 and every day since I have been waiting to go to His kingdom. I am now in my 80s. Oh, the days have been so long, but the years have been so short." Again perhaps a partial explanation; Hmmm....the same things I hear with non believers as believers, it cannot be the whole answer either.

Many comments were also philosophical. They said simply to accept the facts and live each day to the full. Good advice I think, but again no advance in understanding.


I then turned to science. I typed in the search words "psychology of time". This turned up hundreds of articles, most of which were very technical, dealing with brain structure and functions, neurotransmitters and the like. To narrow the search, I typed in both "psychology of time" and "days are long". And got nothing at all!

Finally, I decided to sit down somewhere quietly and analyse the matter myself. This turned about to be a wise decision, because I think I found the solution. It's really quite simple. It all has to do with "anticipation" and "retrospection".

Whatever the nature of our individual lives, we all anticipate things that are important to us. Then after they happen, we look back at them. For example, most school children look forward to the long summer vacation, which always seems to be an eternity away. Finally, it arrives. Then, almost before they blink an eye, it's over and they are back in school again.

Progressing from primary school to secondary school is another excruciating anticipation for a youngster, especially if the move is perceived as being an important step away from childhood into adulthood.

And so it goes on and on. When anticipated, each new significant event seems to be extremely far away. However, after the event, we regularly look back and yell out: "Did it really happen that long ago?"

Our first love, our first heartbreak, driving a car, getting a job, marriage, etc. When we look forward, all these milestones seem impossibly far in the future. However once achieved, how quickly they fade away into the past.

The older we get, the more milestones we have to look back on. So the farther and faster they appear to fade away. So if sometimes the clock may seem to have stopped, the calendar always continues racing ahead.

For me, the high point of my life was joining the army and serving as a soldier for my country was teaching me that life was not always fun. And they thought me to be disciplined. I applied for a peace keeping force post early in my career and was trained for special peace tasks. Processing the application took only about three months -- perhaps the longest three months of my life. It seemed more like three years. I was accepted but not sent abroad as the Dutch government decided differently. 

After a while I realized that I should consider myself lucky as I met guys who came back from these scattered countries – I still help some of them with getting their life on track and help them with a listening ear and lend them a hand when they have to make a new start again. the easiest way of living my life, because I am having so much fun.

I of course have had many other milestones in my life, which are all rapidly hurtling away from me. Even the most recent ones already seem to be covered in dust. I am now 46. I don't feel old, but somehow I just can't get my mind around the fact that many of these things already look like ancient history.

If accumulating milestones is truly the secret of the accelerating years, what do we do about it? Basically nothing; we just have to accept it. However, this is not necessarily a negative. True, the good things are coursing away faster and faster into the past. But so are also the not-so-good things.
Whether positive or negative, nothing in life lasts forever, even if it sometimes feels as if it will. We are certain of this because we know even life itself doesn't last forever. We are all born to die. What happens after that is the subject of considerable controversy. But whatever it is, we are certain it is going to happen, and that it will almost certainly be different from whatever we know today.

Since I am now in my fourth decade (I am 46), for me this inevitability will probably occur sometime within the next 30-40 years, and almost certainly within the next 50 years. This seems like a very long time. However, the years are accelerating, so when it does occur my most probable reaction will be: "What! Already!" On the other hand I have done so many fun things in my life. If I would drop dead tomorrow I would call it bad luck for the rest of my family.

Enjoy every day you've got left, you never know what might happen.

The Old Sailor,


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