It’s Almost Over

time acceleration toward gravitational centerMy barber was incredulous. “Do you believe it, Mikey?” he said, gesticulating with scissors alarmingly close to my ear. “Only three more weeks and this year is over. I can’t understand how this year went by so fast. It seems like we celebrated New Year’s just yesterday.”

Franco is in his late-forties. His eldest daughter is going to college next year. He’s losing his hair and his youthful good looks. His days are accelerating.

For all of us they are. It’s a universal phenomenon, it seems: The older you get, the faster life seems to race away. If there’s a scientific explanation for this, I don’t know what it is. (Something having to do with string-theory and quantum physics, perhaps.) I do know, however, that the older we get, the more acutely we’re aware of mortality, of the impending end. We see death more frequently as we get closer to it, and the inexorable finality of what awaits us all cannot be escaped.

I myself am nearly 40 – 39 in January, actually – yet it seems as though I was just a college student last week. I don’t wonder where all the years haveacceleration imagined gone (I know: they’ve been lived) but I do wonder if whatever remains of my life will feel even briefer. Will my last 40 years feel like 20? Or 10?

A friend of mine likes to smoke marijuana because it “slows everything down,” making time stretch out in a way that converts minutes into hours. Strangely, the better life seems to get, the more it is filled with love and joy and pleasure and contentment, the more concentrated time feels. (Time really does fly when you’re having fun.) To get the marijuana-effect, one need only be morose and depressed. Then time drags like a anesthetized tortoise.

We are all dashing to our finishes. Maybe if we celebrated each day as though it were indeed New Year’s Eve life wouldn’t seem quite so fleeting.

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