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Time

This past weekend my daughter came home from college, and we were talking about the passage of time. She is a sophomore at West Virginia University. WVU offers a summer session called “Adventure West Virginia” to the incoming freshman class that is designed to introduce the new students to each other, the state, and what college life is like. They do team-building things like whitewater rafting, rock climbing and camping. My daughter loved it so much she decided to be a guide this past summer.

As we were talking about her experience with the program, we happened to drive by her high school. She was in the marching band and they were on the field when she remarked at how young they looked. And she started talking about how much you mature in the first year of college. She was reminiscing about some of the incoming freshmen that were in her sessions and how clueless they are about so many things (I almost interrupted her to remind her that cluelessness doesn’t end after the first year of college!). It was fun hearing her stories and her insights.

And she mentioned how quickly her first year of college went by. I said yea…it flew by for your mom and me too! We started to talk about our perception of time and she said a phrase that really caught my attention: “Time is linear, but we experience it exponentially!” I kind of stopped the conversation and asked her if she had just made that up, or if she had heard it somewhere.  She said it just came to her…no one had said that to her.  That  phrase stuck with me and made me think. While neither of us thought time is truly exponential, it hammers home the fact that the older we get, the faster years and days seem to go by. And that drives home to me the thought that if you want to do something, the time is now. Totally unrelated, but certainly connected, was my dad’s reminder to me that I would not learn a new skill or accomplish a task any earlier in my life than that particular moment in time.

The feeling that time goes by faster as we age makes a lot of sense. If you are ten years old, one year is a tenth of your lifespan. At 20, a year is a fifth. The older we get, the smaller percentage of our lifetime a year makes, so it does seem to go by faster. Since we can never claw back time, and since it literally seems to speed up as we age, whatever you are putting off until tomorrow, do it now!

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