The Perception of Time

We do not perceive time at a constant rate. As we get older, time appears to speed up: days, then months, years and finally decades begin to fly by. I propose a formal unit of perceived time to quantify this.

I suggest that your perception of time is proportional to the amount of life you’ve had. So your third year of life was 33% of your total. A huge long time. But your 30th was only 3%, making it feel a tenth as long.

The summer before I went to high school, I was 11. I remember that summer. I remember each day stretching out, full of fun and mischief. I propose that a day during the summer when you’re about to turn 12 be the standard unit of perceived time.

The equation for converting between earth days and 11-year-old’s-days (eyo-days) is:

1 day = (12 / age) eyo-days

According to this formula, a day for me now, feels like a less than a third of a day for my 11 year old self, and a year to my 11 year old self feels like three and a half to me. Both those ratios seem about right to me.

To my three year old son, two calendar months without seeing my 70 year old parents feels like 8 eyo-months to him, but only 10 eyo-days to them. No wonder they think he’s changed so much, and he doesn’t remember much about the last time he was there.

And no surprise when I say “we only have to wait an hour” to my son, he groans – because in perceived time he’ll be waiting 13 times as long as me. And I sure as hell get bored on a 13 hour flight.

Which is a long way of saying that I haven’t posted for a week. My excuse is that the week has just flown by. It was only 2 eyo-days long, after all.

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