We are, once again, approaching the annual switch from daylight saving time back to good old normal regular time, meaning that my bedtime at dark will almost overlap with my supper at 6 p.m. My dad believed that daylight saving occurred because the bosses didn’t have the guts to ask workers to come to work an hour earlier in order to save electric costs, so they paid legislators to mess with time.
I pack around a tiny hope that there are folks in government who actually listen to what folks outside government want and need. This infant Pollyannaism is buoyed by the knowledge that the snails of legal procedure are now carrying new laws around the marble halls of California, Oregon and Washington legislatures that will do away with the semiannual switcheroo and keep our clocks permanently on daylight savings.
I am ready.
Which brings us into the deeper recesses of time as a relative concept. Have you noticed that the years appear to scoot past faster than they once did? My wife’s answer to why time seems to collapse as we grow older is based on a mathematical principal that, 30 years ago in a flush of pure romanticism, I convinced my daughter to tattoo over my left nipple. We don’t have the technical capability to reproduce the tattoo here. When we meet, I’ll show you.
Her formula expresses human awareness of time as the percentage of a person’s life thus far experienced. In other words, at the age of 3 years old, a period of three years represents your entire existence, so an hour can seem like a very long time. By the age of 60, three years only represents 5% of your life, and an hour is a mere drop in the old time bucket.
Despite having reared two children through the serious-question sixes, my own theory of time is yet to be codified (“Dad, if a bug only lives a day, does it seem like a full lifetime? Are their minutes shorter or longer?”).
I think that one’s perception of time is experience-based, that it can be skewed by what happens during one’s aliveness, and the whole tamale has something to do with memory, expectations, vibes, and biorhythms. Fuzzy enough for you?
For example, let us examine our use of those personal computer thingamabobs in our pockets. How many of you remember the stone age of personal computing, 20-some years ago, before the web, during the days of Gophering and FTPing, when it seemed an absolute miracle that the bastard child of a typewriter and a television set could connect us, in only 10 minutes, to the Vatican library, way over there in Rome, Italy, and we could actually read text from there? In only 10 minutes.
Like my dad used to say, “Sometimes I get the feeling that there are smarter people than I am.” Now, let us stir in a few decades of work by a herd of cybergeniuses and bounce that early only-10 minutes experience off of what we expect today. Think about sitting in front of a computer nowadays, and how we impatiently pat our foot during the 3-second delay that it takes a modern hotrod device with all the broadband bells and whistles to connect us with a live video link to the janitor in the Vatican library so we can watch him scrub the feet of the saints and hear him sing the Toreador song from “Carmen.” In 20 years, a 10-minute miracle has transformed into a 3-second annoyance. Which time period is longer?
On the subject of time and its connection to memory, a cowboy pal of mine used to say, “You never learn younger.” A pretty good example of that concept is the following story that my mom says came from the Black Hills of South Dakota:
“I grew up in the hills, in a miner’s cabin, with no glass windows, just shutters. One summer day, I found a puppy in the woods and brought him home. My pappy didn’t want the dog. It was another mouth to feed. I finally talked him into letting me keep the little furball. First day, the dog came in the cabin, and pooped in the corner. Pappy threw him out the window. Second day, the dog came in the cabin and pooped in the corner. Pappy threw him out the window. Third day, the dog came in the cabin, pooped in the corner, and jumped out the window.”