tag/mortality

bok bok bakok!

(2 comments)
February 2, 2006
So....next week I'm in Washington D.C., baby!

Oh, and lest I forget... here's how to Celebrate Groundhog Day. I've always loved this day, even before the movie that goes along with it.

Gross Education of the Moment
How a Hen Lays Her Egg...a lot of detail. A little gross in a too-much-detail kind of way, but interesting. (via Candi.)

Man... that can't tickle.

Speculation of the Moment
Finally, many readers weighed in on the topic of why time seems to accelerate as we age. Don Scott suggested, "When we are younger, each unit of passing time is fractionally larger. One year of my 16-year-old daughter's life is 1/16th of her total life span, while one year of my life is 1/46th, which is why it seemed to her to take forever to get her driver's license, and it seems to me like I just got mine." He adds, "At least for us older readers it will seem like no time before the 2006 season starts." Deanna Julich of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, similarly supposed, "As we age, each year seems to pass faster because it becomes a smaller percentage of the life already lived. When you're four, a year is 25 percent of your life, so it feels like a long time. When you're 25, like I am, a year is four percent of the life you've lived. When you're 63, a year is only 1.58 percent of your life. Each unit of time seems to go by faster because it shrinks as a portion of your life." Barry Fox of Helena, Mont., adds, "To a three-year-old, living until the fourth birthday requires living 33 percent of their entire life span again. To a 60-year-old the same year represents less than two percent of life span. The 60-year-old would need to live to 80 to pass through 33 percent of life span again -- and that too would seem like quite a long time." Don Kemler of Alkmaar, the Netherlands, supposes it's not the passage of time but changes in the supply we are sensing: When there's a lot of your own life ahead, time seems plentiful and when there's less ahead, time seems scarce. Sean Thompson of Burton, Ohio, supposes that with each passing year, we have more memories; the memories get stacked and squeezed in our brains and hence seem closer together. Douglas Harms of Hollywood, Calif., supposes, "As we grow older, we gain more responsibilities and unavoidable nuisances that must be dealt with; nothing makes valuable time disappear faster than a set of dodge-proof chores." Greg Miskin of Bellevue, Wash., suggests time seems to accelerate because we become accustomed to its passage: "The first occasion you drive to a new location seems to take a long time. Subsequent trips pass more quickly. This can be attributed to the amount of attention paid during the first trip that is not required afterward. During the first run, we don't know what is important so we pay attention to everything. After the first time, the mind only needs to keep track of the few significant landmarks. Much of life is this way." Ken Leiphart of Camp Hill, Pa., supposes, "Time drags when you are a kid because you can't wait to grow up, then flies when late in life because you'd much rather not get older."

That last speculation gets, I fear, to the core of the matter. When we're young, we want time to speed up and therefore it crawls. When we're old, we want time to slow down and therefore it flies. Nature's revenge is giving us the opposite of our wish. My 10-year-old, Spenser, cannot wait for VI:XXXVIII Eastern on Sunday and the start of the Super Bowl -- he says it's taking much too long. From my perspective, kickoff will come all too soon.

February 3, 2018

A Mortal Thought: so many of us long for immortality. To live forever, for infinity - time enough to get everything we can imagine doing done.

But here's the thing about infinity: it's not as "everything" as you might expect. Take the simple counting numbers... 1, 2, 3... there's an infinite number of them! They go on forever. Everything you could possibly dream of, right?

Well, no. There are more infinities lurking. Now think about how many numbers fractions are between 0 and 1... 1/2, 1/4, 3/4, 1/8... 311/782, 612131/981141, etc etc etc... there's an infinite number... all lurking between 0 and 1. And the same number must be lurking between 1 and 2, 2 and 3, etc. (And don't even get me started on the decimals... there's an even bigger infinity of them than the fractions, it's a long story)

So even if you had an infinite number of days to work with, there'd be things you couldn't get done - possible paintings you couldn't make, potential books you couldn't write, fabulous romances you couldn't pursue. The space of the possible blossoms and expands far further than our linear selves, even if our linear selves were going to last forever.

I find that reassuring. Sure I'll be missing out on whatever happens after I die, and I'd love to have quite a bit more say in when that happens. But even if by some miracle I managed to live forever without getting bored out of my skull (see the final chapter of Julian Barnes' "A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters" for an exploration of that theme) there would still never be time to do EVERYTHING...
(In response to a response to the above)
One thing I didn't get into - I know my life is influenced by Objective Shoulds - that "objectively" it would be better to accomplish this, learn that, achieve the other. But I find it useful to remember that I don't actually believe there's any external authority determining that... so I don't have to worry about what potential goals I don't make nearly as much as I do.

I'm imagining that if your goals are more self-realized, that there are things you'd want to get done because YOU would want to, and not how other people or "objectively reality" will judge you - well, I guess this outlook is less help... the commitments you have to do and the choices of things you prioritized might well be blocking other things/classes/places/connections/reconnections you'd like to do, and so the best we can do is look for silver linings, try to prioritize and push and make a little time for that secondary but rewarding stuff...