Every person over the age of 30 at some point or another seems to inevitably make the same comment. “Time seems to go so much faster the older you get.” I’ve said it and thought it many times, but never really stopped to think about why it was. There are still 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 12 months in a year. Why do those events seem to go by so much faster than when we were kids?
I think the answer is that as adults our lives are more structured and planned. I know when I get up tomorrow that I will get up, test my blood sugar, get a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, take my morning meds, go to work, come home, check the net, take the dog out, get undressed, and go to bed. Even those events are further scheduled out. I don’t look at work as an 8 hour shift. Mentally I think of it in two-hour blocks. Clock in, set up my operation, work the mail for about an hour, and go to my first break. Work the mail for another hour and forty minutes, go to wash-up, and take lunch. Work the next hour and forty-five minutes, go to my final break, and take my evening meds. Then I go back to work for another hour and forty minutes before going to wash-up and going home. Every day of the week is the same as the last one, except for my day off, which has also been planned out based on things I need to get done on the one day I don’t have to go to work. Every minute at work is spent anticipating that next break. Every day is spent anticipating that one day off even if it has no free time in it either. Every minute of every day is already gone before I even get to breathe it in. That’s not the case when you’re a kid. When you’re a kid, every day is an adventure.
When you get up in the morning you have no idea what you’re going to have for breakfast. Did mom make pancakes? What cereals do we have? Do I smell bacon? It’s a mystery to be solved. When you get to school you have no idea what the day will bring. You may know your class schedule, but what about the days that the teacher decides to show a movie? Or what about when a substitute teacher shows up? Maybe they’ll have an assembly today, or a bake sale, or an in school basketball game. It’s school, but it’s not predictable. After school you had several hours of free time unless you had homework. None of that was planned out. Dinner was even a mystery. Would it be something you liked or would it be Brussel sprouts? Maybe your parents would order a pizza or take everyone out for a meal. The weekends were a blank canvas. You never knew when someone in the family would surprise you with a day trip or a movie. I still remember the joy of going to see The Jungle Book for my third or fourth time with my brother-in-law. He took me along with his kids (my niece and nephew, I was a late life surprise) and it was one of the greatest days of my life to that point. I remember my sister taking me with her two kids (my other nephews at the time) to see Jaws and Earthquake one evening. I had already seen both of the films, my nephews hadn’t seen either, but we all had a great time. It was an adventure.
So what I have concluded is that when you face each moment waiting for some future goal like a break, a day off, or a vacation, you never savor the moments. You look ahead and plan for when your break ends or your vacation’s over. When you live life like a kid with no idea or only a vague idea of what the next week, day or even hour is going to bring, you live in the moment.