When I was a kid, the holidays seemed to take FOREVER to get here. Now, as an adult, I am amazed the holiday season has hit again so quickly — didn’t we just have them? Jack Rooney said it perfectly. Life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.
When you are younger, time goes very slowly. But then, you start having to be responsible for your life, and that’s when the days, weeks, and months begin to blow by. One day, you pass by a mirror and don’t see yourself anymore. As the old saying says: life is what happens when you are busy making other plans. Life isn’t exactly short. Instead, life gets in the way, and before you know it, decades have gone by.
Another reason life goes faster the older we get is that we have most of our ‘firsts’ early on. The first time you do something is usually the most memorable and leaves an impression. Later experiences aren’t necessarily better, worse, or less meaningful, but the ‘firsts’ leave a strong, lasting impression — feeling like a core memory or significant life event. Later on, experiences are repeated, feeling like a blur. Thus, you don’t remember those experiences as clearly regarding their impact on your life or how you define yourself.
From a mathematical perspective, time goes faster the older you are because a day takes up less and less of your life. So, for a child, a day is perhaps 1/3500 of their experience, but as an adult, a day is only 1/10000 of it. Looking back at my childhood memories, I truly understand how fast time flies. Memories from a decade ago feel like they are from a different lifetime almost. Yet, they also feel like they just happened. Then looking forward, I think about how much time there is, which at first glance seems like a lot.
When I look back at how fast life has gone and how it seems like time is speeding up as I age, I know time will go exponentially quicker as I have more and more years behind me. Think about it: one year compared to ten years is a lot, but one year compared to fifty years… that’s five times less.
I had the epiphany a while back that our single most valuable asset in life is time. Time is the only thing you’re guaranteed to run out of, and you have no idea how much you have left. Throughout a lifetime, you can collect all sorts of things, such as money, cars, baseball cards, or stamps. But nobody has ever been able to collect time. We can only lose it and never save or ever get it back.
Seen through this lens, drop a routine-and-safe-life in exchange for opportunities to seek out new experiences and challenges. You want to be in a position when you’re 80 years old to tell people how fulfilling, satisfying, or memorable your life was. Don’t be the grumpy old man who realized too late that he didn’t do anything worthwhile in his life.
Keep in mind that life experiences are not necessarily about traveling the world and doing extreme activities. Learning from life creates life experiences — the places you’ve been, the things you’ve done, and the people you’ve met create life experiences. As long as you can learn new things daily from situations around you, things you read, people you meet, things you do, and emotions you feel, you will be gaining life experiences.
Instead of looking to expand outwards, take an interest in things around you and learn from them. Look for something new when you can no longer learn from the things around you. Traveling to an exotic place won’t do much for you unless you learn from it. Skydiving isn’t going to help if you don’t embrace it. Learning a new recipe and discovering how to play with the ingredients in the recipe is a life experience. Going to an art festival, meeting strangers, and enjoying their stories is a life experience.
Life experiences build upon the ups and downs of your life. I’m sure you’ve gone through challenging life experiences. Did you just feel sad, or did you try to improve your life from what you learned? Also, I’m sure you’ve had some positive experiences where you felt proud of your success. Did you just feel happy, or did you try to repeat the success by learning what made it successful? These incidents build life experiences — working through adversity and celebrating successes by learning and growing.
Life experiences are not about crazy or exotic lifestyles; they are about learning from the things around you and reflecting upon yourself. My recommendation is to live deliberately. Forget pursuing material things and enjoy your life and the people around you. You will see that your life becomes a series of beautiful and fulfilling experiences; trust me, time will slow down. Ignore the critics; they will eventually realize the same thing, except much later.
When you are young, life is brand new with an unknown future over the horizon. The further you travel through life, the less remarkable the landscape may look. Sure, parts are magical and exciting, but some are mundane. Regardless, make the most of it and relish every second. Everything passes, whether pain, fear, or joy. They’re all temporary, so when life is rough and challenging, take comfort in the fact it will pass. Absorb every bright sunset until your heart is full because it, too, shall pass. Enjoy yourself — it’s later than you think.