Editor’s Desk

Time flies when you’re getting older

April 13, 2013 

Every Saturday, in its weekend edition, The Wall Street Journal reports on some of the latest research in the sciences. A recent Saturday, for example, reported that two-fifths of the happiness gap between blacks and whites has closed since the early 1970s, according to a study by two economists. Another study found that group-based financial rewards are more effective than paying individuals to lose weight.

Most of the findings follow studies, many involving hundreds of people and many taking years to complete. What I want to see is a study on whether time seems to pass faster for older people than younger folk.

When I was young, or younger, I didn’t believe older folks who said that the older they got, the faster the years went by. I believe them now.

I first noticed time racing by was last year, when I was 50, almost 51. Marking the passing of time is an occupational hazard in the newspaper business. Always in my mind, for example, are the dates of the next two editions of the paper. But last year, for the first time, it was January one day and August seemingly the next. This year is passing quickly too. Just the other day, or so it seems, I was watching college bowl games on New Year’s Day. Now the Major League Baseball season is a week old.

Maybe it’s psychological. Now almost 52, I have probably lived more than half of my life, so I know full well that the sand in the hourglass is falling much fasters now. Perhaps that’s what my subconscious is telling me when January quickly gives way to August.

Or maybe it’s physical. Maybe when we reach a certain age, something changes in the brain so that time seems to slip past faster.

Either way – psychological or neurological – a study could determine whether time is passing by faster for the older than the younger. I’d even volunteer for the study. (By the way, if I had my druthers, I’d rather time flying be neurological. Taking a pill to slow the passage of time seems more convenient and less expensive than psychotherapy.)

Either way, I just want to let young folks know that when old folks say time is racing by, they’re not kidding. One day you’ll know that too, and that day will get here faster than you think. Trust me.

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