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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Summer on the lake...

June 28th - 6:15 a.m. on Kootenay Lake. Bony foot and paddle...

It seems summer has finally hit, after a cooler spring than usual. And I'm going to be home more in July and pretty much fully in August. This is good, as is the canoe, the friends, the long days and the beauty.

Something is on my mind though. It has to do with how quickly the seasons and years seem to be flying by and how important it seems to be to seize the moment because of that. First some lyrics from arguably the best album ever.

Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way.
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
Every year is getting shorter; never seem to find the time...

-- "Time" from The Dark Side of the Moon: Pink Floyd

There is an area of study that looks at perception of time by humans and it won't surprise you (unless your are 8 years old) that time speeds up and rushes as we hit the middle years. Let me put it in my words (bear with me, if you have time...)

It's common knowledge that our perception of the passage of time can be influenced by psychological factors: time flies when we're busy, but really drags when we're waiting. (Stare at a clock and wait for a minute to pass. Or wait for someone on hold on the phone, or for Windows to load.) These are generally short term experiences, but what about long periods of time such as years? Is there something other than transient psychological factors affecting our time perception?

We usually think about the years of our lives in terms of decades: our teens, twenties, thirties, etc. This is sort of a linear view: that all our years are equal; that clock time is our time, through which we move at a uniform pace. But perception, it turns out, is not linear.

This simple picture doesn't square with our perceptions as we age. By our middle years, at least, most of us have become aware that something is screwy, that a very slow but profound change has been sneaking up on us: the seasons and years that used to crawl by are now racing by. Where are the long, leisurely summers we knew as children? If it seemed forever to get through grade five, what happened to last year? Why do we now seem so rushed by life? Where are all the things we wanted to accomplish, but never seemed to find the time for?

There is another clue that our lives are not running in a linear, clock like fashion: when we try to remember back to the earliest years of our childhood, they seem incredibly distant, like a far horizon that always recedes as we attempt to approach it. Why should we find it so much harder to remember the first few years of life than to remember later years, even after a longer time? And why do parents see their children growing up so much faster than they did?

Research supports all this - young bastards with time on their hands I say.

Still with me here? What's time like for you? Do you buy the theory that it really is speeding up (in your experience)? Do you care? Will Gary ever stop asking questions?

I hope you don't stop asking questions. MathMan made the time illustration for me many years ago.Time does seem to be passing more quickly. Unfortunately, I tend to treat everyday like a race and that doesn't help.

That is a lovely picture.
Thanks dcup - I'm part of the human 'race' a lot of the time too.
If you don't stop and smell the proverbial roses, time goes faster.
When you're in motion, you miss the millions of things around you that slow down time.
Don't believe me? Try driving away for 20 miles and parking. The long walk home will be finely detailed and leisurely.
You'll remember it far longer than you will the 30-minute drive.
Hey! Is that a foot!?! My friends tease me all the time about having a "foot fetish." Truly, I don't. I just think it's funny taking pictures of them all the time b/c so many people are grossed out by feet.

Hello! We need them to walk. No need to be grossed out. Unless of course your toe nails are green.

Gotta run. Will READ your post later! I'm going to go cover Barack Obama! He's in KC today. Watch for that on my blog.
Sera - I love the driving/walking insight. So true.

Sarah - you too! Come on, admit it, we have a thing for feet. Is it so bad?? Can't wait to see your Obama piece - show us video.
That song haunts me.

And that's one heck of an album.

This is the kind of post you do that I like best. It reminds me of your old Live Wire (?) essays.
Dahling, I have surfaced temporarily to hand out awards. Will you be picking yours up or shall I have it shipped?

And to answer your question, time is NOT on my side.
I think the Earth is moving faster and spinning faster, and I'm just dizzy.
that's funny, those are some of my favourite lyrics from that album (and I agree with your rating of it, although 'Wish You Were Here' is pretty close by my standards)
I also love
"Long you live and high you fly
And smiles you'll give and tears you'll cry
And all you touch and all you see
Is all your life will ever be." damn, I love Pink Floyd...

as for the time going faster as you age, I agree and disagree, I think perhaps as you age you have more of a life to look back on giving you the perspective of faster moving time. I look at my kids periodically and think "how did I get here" (another great set of lyrics) - but I know how I did. I like living more slowly and taking mental snapshots on the way. there was a time when I was basically on my own in the middle of nowhere with three tiny kids and I had moments where I wanted to 'hurry through this' but even then, I really didn't want to speed things up. life is too short, and too full of miracles to hurry (that sun will just race up behind you again), and we'll all be dead in the end - so why rush towards that?
Scarlet - multiple messages - thanks! And I'll hunt down my award soon. Does it bite?

Callooh, I like the insights. Sounds like you have the right attitude and that being present with what is might be one of the slow-down keys.
Yeah, I too have a car analogy. I remember walking to the park with Garth and being a bit jealous of a young woman in a sports car. A few years later I had a car which I had to drive to work and the dog had to stay home. Enjoy the moment.
An interesting post. Time is certainly a rather tricky concept as you have skillfully commentated in your informative post.
As the sum total increases of all of our past experiences the idea of future time becomes relative to that; hence a notion of time to accelerate relative to age. In other words we tend to think of our past as if it is a constant, but as life experience expands; time must logically accelerate to be truly representative of that perceived constant of past experience.
In everyday life however increased automation also becomes more prevalent as previously confirmed pathways in thinking mean we usually spend much less time relatively in problem solving within the brain so that each day seems to pass more quickly, as there seems to be there is less to remember. There isn’t the case, it just we are not conscious of it.
An example is travelling to a difficult location where you need a rather detailed directory. You take the same time to get there as to drive home, but the return trip doesn’t seems to take nearly as long because you spend less conscious time thinking about it all.
Best wishes
Susan - I love that.

Lindsay, that's interesting. The story stretches out much longer behind us as we pass (likely) middle age, doesn't it? The same way the last chapters of a good book race by in the reading. Conscious of the journey is another insight. Thanks mate.
re: lindsaylobe. "previously confirmed pathways..."
is that another clever way of saying you're in a rut?
a friend wrote this, I thought it appropriate...

It comes to me that one day I must die

I do not ask a martyrs death
to burn and hack a path
that's followed by the crowd.
I do not ask a glorious death
that warms the heart and
makes the world a better place.
I do not ask some special death
that makes the news around the town.

Master Death,
if I may choose,
bring me an ordinary death
that ends the story of my life,
not like some pages missing from a tale
but as a punctuation mark,
dots that ends a sentence,
paragraph or verse;
that coming in its rightful place
compels the reader
close the book,
and smile,
then sigh,
"Now that was good."

the last line is my favourite.
I have never thought of time as always going at one rate. Some days really do by faster than other days, and I'm not really convinced that it has anything to do with what I happen to be doing that day.

I was thinking too about how time seems to drag when we were younger. I think part of it is that as children, we wait for things, days, and events to hurry up and come already. It's like we look forward to things happening to us. But as adults, we might be trying to avoid things from happening, such as old age or other such natural events to happen, and hence, because we don't want certain things to arrive in our life, it seems that we are heading in that direction that much faster. Does that make sense? It certainly does in my head. Hahaha.
I totally buy the theory that time speeds up, but it might be a matter of perception. The trip to first base took F O R E V E R. Now that I'm on third, it feels like the trip to home plate is coming on faster. Whoa. How did I start off looking at tootsies on a canoe and end up with a baseball metaphor?

*SIGH* The canoe looks heavenly.
Sera re: lindsaylobe. "Previously confirmed pathways..."

Is that another clever way of saying you're in a rut?-
The natural accumulation of life experience in many different outcomes and approaches residing in our minds (previous confirmed pathways) I think adds enormously to our total life experience. Previously confirmed pathways are just that; what we know and how it affected us at that point in time which can help us to proceed or cope with our life challenges. And having that accumulated life experience is likely to lead to more spontaneity, openness and awareness; for as time flies by life’s experience will be our great teacher, but I might add Teachers Whisky (in moderation) can also be the great experience.

Best wishes
"Wish You Were Here" is my ringtone.
Ah Gary I love that photo and want to be in that boat! I will just have to satisfy myself with coming by and picturing my own foot and so imagine I am there. Mmm the stillness of that water. Makes me breath a sigh of relief just looking at it.

Anyway time is speeding by for me at this minute. Summer is never long enough and the kids are moving out in record numbers! It seems only a moment ago I was surround by 4 young children and struggling to keep it all together as time dragged by.
I'm in a gray mood Gary. The world around me seems to fall apart. Maybe I'm to sensitive - I don't know...

About your time theme.
I believe your observations are correct. But there is an additional issue. There is the perception of "individual time", the time that a singular human being acknowledges.
But there is also a "universal time" that is not stagnant but dynamic. The later is speeding up and compounds the subjective feeling of individual time-perception.

I am only throwing this in to make you more confused and think longer about it. Maybe you gain ... some time.
no time to read everyone else's comments.... on company time (blush - aw heck, it's my coffee break) but i will come back later and do it, as it's always worthwhile. someone once said, "if you want to live forever, do nothing. time drags. but if you life a full life, time flies by and life seems all too short." i guess it's your full life stealing time from you. and, it seems to me that time is NOT linear. even clocks measure time cyclically. this idea of time as something linear, is realtively new, historically, according to Leonard Schlain (i think?) author of Alphabet Versus the Goddess. kind of on par with our modern idea of linear economies, hmm? let's use it all up as fast as we can, as if there were an endless supply, and never count the cost.

the view from the canoe took my breath away. water like glass, and i can almost smell the sun on my skin. enjoy your time @ home.

and tip the canoe over now and then, just for fun.
Gary! Barack Obama coverage has been posted - FINALLY.

PS - will get to lounge in my own canoe next week! Pictures/video to follow! Stay tuned!!!
Where can I get a lake like that, and a boat like that, but not necessarily a foot like that?
Busy Man, look at this old hat I found.
Gary..didn't you mention this in an earlier post about that study that showed that (like Lindsay mentions) 'automation', the routine and ease of doing things make life go faster..I've been thinking about that ever since. I am trying to do 'new' things or things that challenge me.. not solely in a bid to make time seem to pass more slowly (nor to make my body age more slowly, ehem..) BUT my brain needs to be tweaked and kept interested.
anyhow..looove the picture as I've spent many a time in a canoe in BC in my VERY early years..but the fact that i can remember it albeit stuck in the middle sans oar tells you that I was blissfully in my element..
happy rowing G..



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