The question and the possibility it presents put me in mind of my father, who died a few years ago at age 86. An engineer by training, he read constantly after he retired. His range was enormous; he read about everything from astronomy to natural history, travel and gardening. I remember once discovering dozens of magazines and journals in the house and was convinced that my parents had become the victims of a mail-order scam.
Thinking I’d help with the clutter, I began to bundle up the magazines for recycling when my father angrily confronted me, demanding to know what the hell I was doing. “I read all of these,” he said.
And then it dawned on me. I cannot recall his ever having remarked on how fast or slow his life seemed to be going. He was constantly learning, always alive to new ideas and experience. Maybe that’s why he never seemed to notice that time was passing.
So what, you might say, if we have an illusion about time speeding up? But it matters, I think, because the distortion signals that we might squeeze more out of life.
It’s simple: if you want time to slow down, become a student again. Learn something that requires sustained effort; do something novel. Put down the thriller when you’re sitting on the beach and break out a book on evolutionary theory or Spanish for beginners or a how-to book on something you’ve always wanted to do. Take a new route to work; vacation at an unknown spot. And take your sweet time about it.
[All the excuse I need to always continue programming, music, woodworking, photography, and everything else. One should never stop learning.]