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Hmm, Perspectives on the Velocity of Life? Options
Epiphileon
Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2019 5:54:00 AM

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As some of you will recall, the whole business of how life seems to pass by ever faster as we age has been an issue for me for some time. I have fully adopted the term I think LeonAzul coined for it "The Velocity of Life".

Well this morning while making coffee I got a strange notion but one that I think may work to keep a better perspective? on that phenomenon.

I buy my coffee filters in boxes of 100 and opened a new box this morning. I took a moment to write on the back of the box a few impressions on my current experience of being and will now ignore the back of the box until I use the last filter and after writing similar impressions on the back of the next box, will then read the ones on the back of the old one. The kind of thing my precaffeinated brain does at 0400 but it seemed like it might work.

What are some ways you can think of to try to get a handle on the throttle of the velocity of life?

ETA "Perspectives on" may not be the best phrase for such mechanisms, however, should such behavioral mechanisms work, a better perspective, I think, would be the result.
FounDit
Posted: Sunday, December 15, 2019 11:49:57 AM

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This subject has arisen more often after having entered the seventh decade of life. Thinking about it for a few minutes, I have some first impressions I'd like to share and see if they resonate with others.

On many mornings, particularly those day as I prepare to go to work, I think, "Again? It seems I just did this a few hours ago". It is then the "velocity of life" stands in stark relief. So why is this?

My first thoughts are that, when we are young, say in our teen years, we're trying to figure out who we are, what we will do in the future, indeed what the future may hold for us, so many life decisions waiting to be made. Those thoughts may fill most of us with excitement, fear, or a mixture of both, I suspect. Each new chapter of life creates more opportunities for both pleasant and unpleasant experiences. So life seems to happen in daily experiences that are new to us.

But after having lived for some length of time, especially over 50 or 60 years, many of life's experiences have been dealt with, perhaps many times, and few new experiences are left that we haven't already had.

Because we've experienced so many of our daily routines and interactions over the years, we think little of them, and they pass without too much concern or concentration. This results in weeks and months going by without our having paid much attention to them, as they are so routine.

It's only those experiences that cause us great emotional reactions that stand out, and those become fewer as the years go by, I think. Or it may be that we react to them with less fervor than we might have in our youth because of experience. Perhaps it's a combination of both.

So it may be that fewer strongly emotional circumstances, or less intense emotional reactions to repeated circumstances result in the sense that time is passing more quickly. Anyway, those are my first impressions on the subject.
Epiphileon
Posted: Monday, December 16, 2019 4:08:37 AM

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I think that your idea in general touches on what may be a contributing factor to the experience; however, I don't know whether I'd tie it directly to emotional response levels. Maybe, maybe not. I have no doubt that emotions have some effect on the perception but I would hesitate in assigning them a primary causative role, but again perhaps. I think, again perhaps, that one thing to check out is whether a person who loses a life long love to death experiences a change in the velocity of life. Granted it is a singular event but definitely one of high emotional impact and we know that in the greiving process there are many times when the event is reexperienced in various ways. I don't know, I do think it definitely has something to do with how much experience we have behind us, obviously as that is the very definition of age; however, why that changes a perceptual process is would be the subject of that investigation. However, that investigation is not what prompted this post, what I am curious about is whether people have found any behavioral mechanisms that help them "get a handle on" the velocity of life, or what they think may work like my coffee filter box idea.
FounDit
Posted: Monday, December 16, 2019 10:03:00 AM

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Well, it seems to me that it is the strong emotional response levels of events that we remember. Common daily experiences don't register like that. For example, I think it might be difficult for you to recall the details of any particular day from any year if there were no strong emotional responses on that day. Would you also be able to recall anything specific about the days between the ideas you write on your coffee filter box?

The death of a loved one does alter one's perspective, at least it did for me when I lost my first wife to cancer. It brings the finality of life into sharp focus. It is also a reminder that this is where we are all headed, sooner or later. And as I age, I'm reminded of that more frequently. In fact, my current wife and I had a conversation just yesterday about wills and final arrangements. It's not really a pleasant thought, but must be dealt with, if not by us, then by our children.

But I'm not sure how your coffee filter box gives you "a handle on the velocity of life". It seems to me that if the only time you consider the subject is when you write on a coffee filter box, you will be doing the same thing we all tend to do - take each day without giving it much thought. And then find ourselves surprised when we do stop and think and realize another large chunk of time has passed unnoticed; like the time between your writings.

As I think about it now, it seems the only way to get a handle on the velocity of time is to pay attention to it everyday; to make a habit of paying attention to it every day. But most of us don't do that. I think the reason is because it causes us to realize it's going to end, and we don't like thinking about that. We want to be surprised by it even when we really don't want to be surprised by it. A Paradox. Like the old joke, "I want to go in my sleep, like my grandfather, not like the other people in his car, screaming as it went over the cliff".
FounDit
Posted: Tuesday, December 17, 2019 12:44:55 PM

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This is an interesting article that seems somewhat related to the topic.

Why You Can’t Help But Act Your Age

I thought this part was interesting:

This was a striking illustration of psychological processes—in this case the subjective perception of time—influencing metabolic processes in the body that control the level of blood sugar.
Epiphileon
Posted: Saturday, December 21, 2019 2:04:04 PM

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FounDit wrote:
Well, it seems to me that it is the strong emotional response levels of events that we remember.


There seems to be little doubt that emotions play a large role in memory encoding and even in recall; however, that does not indicate a direct link to the perception of the passage of time. Like I said already I do agree that the amount of experience behind us has an effect but, I am highly suspect of that being in and of itself causative. I also think, although this is an entirely subjective observation, that my emotional responses now are far fuller and richer than they were earlier in life when I was more of a cerebral human and yet I still perceive time as slipping by ever faster.

The notes on the coffee filter box are not so much an attempt to slow down the perception of time in real-time but an attempt to place markers so that it doesn't escape without notice.
Epiphileon
Posted: Saturday, December 21, 2019 2:21:19 PM

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Joined: 3/22/2009
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FounDit wrote:
This is an interesting article that seems somewhat related to the topic.

Why You Can’t Help But Act Your Age

I thought this part was interesting:

This was a striking illustration of psychological processes—in this case the subjective perception of time—influencing metabolic processes in the body that control the level of blood sugar.


That is a fascinating article for a number of reasons. I'll be contemplating, and investigating that one for a while. I am really curious about how the woman in the first research settled on Peterborough, NH for the site of her experiment. Peterborough is the city the high school is in that I drive a school bus for.
FounDit
Posted: Saturday, December 21, 2019 3:00:04 PM

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Epiphileon wrote:
FounDit wrote:
Well, it seems to me that it is the strong emotional response levels of events that we remember.


As I read what you wrote here, a few possibilities came to mind. I'm not sure they are definitive, but something to ponder.

There seems to be little doubt that emotions play a large role in memory encoding and even in recall; however, that does not indicate a direct link to the perception of the passage of time. Like I said already I do agree that the amount of experience behind us has an effect but, I am highly suspect of that being in and of itself causative. I also think, although this is an entirely subjective observation, that my emotional responses now are far fuller and richer than they were earlier in life when I was more of a cerebral human and yet I still perceive time as slipping by ever faster.

The notes on the coffee filter box are not so much an attempt to slow down the perception of time in real-time but an attempt to place markers so that it doesn't escape without notice.


Considering emotions and the amount of experience behind us:
we tend to remember negative emotions and experiences more lucidly than happy experiences. Also, happy, pleasant experiences seem to make time go by more rapidly. Time flies when we are having fun, but crawls when we are miserable.

On emotional responses being fuller and richer, I would agree, and wonder if that isn't because we have had more of them over the years, each one intensifying the emotion with each (occurrance, occurence, damned word), occurrence, by adding to the depth of the experience.

I, too, perceive time as moving faster, but wonder if, in my case anyway, it's because I spend more time feeling happier, more contented, more peaceful at this stage of life. If time flies when you're having fun, might it also not fly when you are experiencing these states too? It might be so. But there is the added awareness of just how few the remaining days are that lie ahead, and while not wanting to contemplate that too obsessively, it is an inescapable fact.

I look back, and am amazed at how much time has passed since my childhood, since my days in the military, since I married and had children, and all the inventions that have come into being just in my lifetime.

That last part, all the things in society that have changed in so short a time may also contribute to the sense of time passing so quickly: powered flight, cars without a/c, FM radio, TV, tape decks, jet propulsion to space travel, we have a space station orbiting the Earth!, CD's, cell phones and personal computers. Technology is moving so fast, we can hardly keep up with it. This has to be a key component when you think of how long different stages of technology took to advance in the past.

FounDit
Posted: Thursday, December 26, 2019 1:15:39 PM

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Joined: 9/19/2011
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Something to add to the discussion:

Why You Never Have Enough Time
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