Santa Barbara Beach

The Crazy Age-Related Physics of Place and Time

Ever notice how with age time moves faster and places seem smaller?

Christmas vacation lasted good long time. Summer vacation was forever. Disneyland was a vast nation only explorable in multiple days. Four decades later, the moments zip by like feathers in the wind.

I remember being a little one, looking up at the big kids (teenagers) and wanting so desperately to be one. They seemed so cool and so wise. They got to do things on their own, and those things seemed to involve having so much fun. It took forever for me to become a teenager. And of course, when I did, I knew everything. Now, I know that to be the self-centered folly of youth.

On my return to Los Angeles in 2008, I was struck by the smallness of things, like my old elementary school, the library down the street, the parks. Logic tells me it’s all the same, and only my perception has changed. But still, it feels eerie. Otherworldly.

Is my world’s clock unwinding?

Has my vision’s lens zoomed out?

Maybe it’s just a side effect of adulthood. Perhaps, we’ve sped up so fast much we don’t notice what’s going on around us enough to engage and truly perceive its magnitude.

I’ve been trying to slow down just a little bit and notice things. Last week an unexpected traffic jam placed me in the passenger seat of the car looking out on buildings and signs I’ve passed hundreds of times. I saw things I’d have never noticed before.

I had no idea there was a party store on Sepulveda Boulevard. When did the bicycle store close down? Oh, the fitness gym has a new owner. This all happened under my nose. But when? How?

If I wasn’t seeing what was going on around me, what was I looking at? Our minds work in mysterious and sometimes unfathomable full ways.

Maybe aging includes slowing down for a variety of reasons. More than a physical imperative, time offers perspective. I speculate the universe waits until we’re ready to see all we’ve spent decades rushing past.



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