Man, I must be having a blast!
This past Wednesday I celebrated my 52nd birthday. ‘Celebrated’ is probably not the right word. These days, birthdays tend to be more of a time for reflection, rather than party-time. Where have I been, where am I going and how the heck did I get to be 52 years old? I’ve also been thinking about time recently. It is commonly recognized that the older we get, the faster times seems to fly, whether we are having fun or not. Why is it that when I was a kid, summer vacations seem to last forever. This past summer I blinked and it was gone. Birthdays are coming at me way too fast now and there is never enough precious time in a day.
I did a bit of research and came up with an interesting answer for this phenomenon. The speed of life has to do with proportion; percentage and time. For example, When you’re five years old, a year is 1/5 of your life, but when you are 50 years old a year is only 1/50! I never did like fractions in school… In other words, when a year is 50% of your life, it seems to lasts much longer than a year that is only 1% of your life.
Anticipation may also come into play here to help slow things down for children. Kids have a lot to look forward to, they have their whole lives ahead of them. They look forward to Christmas, birthdays, graduations, going to college and on and on. When you can’t wait to get a drivers license, it seems to take forever to get to that 16th birthday. On the other hand, adults inevitably have to deal with more responsibilities, job, family, housework, etc. that takes up our time and can suck the fun out of life.
Is their anything we can do to slow down time? Maybe. Focusing more on the moments seems to slow time down a bit. The more we are unaware of time – as if asleep or living towards the weekend – the faster time seems to pass. Of course, the clock never changes, but the passage of time can be subjective.
From a Buddhist perspective, being conscious of every moment and by choosing our actions with mindfulness, we can break old habits. When we allow all our activities to run together into one big routine, it is extremely easy to get caught up in our habitual thoughts and actions, because we haven’t given any direct instructions to our mind. “Mindfulness” is about experiencing every moment with an attitude of openness and freshness. Buddha felt that it was imperative to cultivate mindfulness for all aspects of life or in other words, to “stop and smell the roses.”