“Just Yesterday”

March 20th, 2010

People say that as you grow older, your sense of time changes, so that weeks, months, and years pass by in the space of a day.

Maybe aging is part of it, but I don’t think that’s the whole story.

When you have kids, the counting of years becomes easier, because of the concrete milestones involved.  You go from no kid, to suddenly having a baby, and then a year later your baby is walking around and trying to stuff things in his mouth, then he’s talking, then he enters nursery school, then he finishes his first year…

When my eldest son, Alex, turned one, people around me were saying “Already? It seems like he was born just yesterday”.  And my reaction (well, usually internal; I didn’t actually say it much) was “Actually, it seems like a year ago”.  The same thing when he turned two, and the same thing when he turned three.  I was blessed, in that every year felt like a proper year.

However, yesterday he finished his first year in nursery school, and while I won’t say it felt like only a day, it did feel like only a month.

So, why the change in my sense of time?  I’m pretty sure it comes down to my own schedule.

For the last ten years (up until last October), I worked a bizarre schedule.  I was part of a 24/7/365 network monitoring team.  My schedule was constantly scattered.  Some days I’d have off, some nights I’d work, some days I’d work.  There was no constancy whatsoever.  Then, from October, I switched to a much more ordinary schedule: I go to sleep every night, and wake up every morning.  From Monday to Friday, I go to my “office” (the downstairs room in our house) and do translation work.

I think the reason that time seems to go faster as we age is, in part, due to each week more or less resembling the previous one.  For the first time perhaps ever, I’ve been experiencing the “It’s Friday already?  But it was just Monday, like, yesterday!” phenomenon.  And that seemed to map almost perfectly to “He’s finishing his first year?  But it seems like he just entered school.”  For the average adult, this probably doesn’t start at age 35, but more around 22 or 23, after graduating from university and joining a company.

So, sure, aging may be part of it, but I’m reasonably sure that the main factor is actually just having a steady schedule.

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