Lukas Z's Blog

Distances in Time

Everyone that has lived a bit has perceived that time seems to move faster as we get older.

For a child the two days before Christmas (and the presents) can feel like an eternity. The adult hardly notices. The twenty year old may believe that he will live forever. The forty year old thinks more often about his health and retirement.

I believe some scientist has attempted to quantify these differing perceptions. I won’t google it, but if I remember correctly, the perceptive middle of life is at the age of 18.

That means according to perception our life is half over around the time we get our driving license (here in Europe at least).

A crazy thought, no?

But I have observed something else in myself. Not only does my perception of my own biographical time change as time passes. But also of the perception of historical time.

Ok this sounds way too fancy, but I mean this: When I was 20 the year 1945 seemed very long ago indeed. Grandpa would talk about it. It was an important year for him. But to me it was ancient history. Just like Elvis Presley might have lived in the time of Beethoven as far as I was concerned.

As I get older, and perhaps as I read more, these distances get smaller. 1945 is not that long ago. And, as a matter of fact, neither is the year 0.

Some time ago I got into reading old philosophy books. The Stoics. Seneca, Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius. And Plato and some other writers from that time (antiquity).

And when I started I was expecting some super hard to understand, far removed, treaties of ancient problems.

But no. No no no. They were like us. Just like us. The same people, they just didn’t have electricity and motorcycles. And they perhaps did not have scientific proof that the earth revolves around the sun. (However, they were not “flat earthers”, as one may believe, either. At least some Greeks did experiments to check, I vaguely recall.)

So that distance in time shrank for me, too.

What’s next? How long ago is it that cavemen walked the earth? What are 100.000 years in eternity?

Would we live 1000 years, would the middle of perception be at 180? Or would it still be at 18?

If the answer were 18, what would the point of a much longer life be then?

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