Experiencing Life

Each year goes by faster than the previous one.  As a young kid the summer lasted forever hiking the foothills of the Santa Cruz Mountains in California.  The period of a year was a long time, and like most kids I could not wait to “grow up”.

I have a theory of why summer break seemed to go by faster each year.  When you are 10 years old a 3-month long summer break is a 1/4 of  a year long — the same length of time when you are 50 years old.  During that 3 months over summer a 10 year old experiences ,

3 months / ( 10 years x 12 months /year) = 1 / 40 = 0.025

of her entire lifetime. At 50 years old a 3-month long summer experience is only,

3 months / (50 years x 12 months / year) = 5 / 1000 = 0.005

of her lifetime.  So at 50 years old the summer break seems to go by five times faster than when you were 10 years old.   Each new year, a period of time appears to go by much faster since the experience during that time is a smaller fraction of your total experiences.

Perhaps the metaphor, ” Life is like a roll of toilet paper… as you get towards the end it goes by very fast, and then all of sudden you are out of luck! “, is simpler to remember?

Ironically, I remember much of my younger years like it was just yesterday (i.e. easier to recall).   I also remember more about the years as youngster than I do after my twenties. This makes sense though, given the theory — those days of youth were a huge fraction of my total experience back then.

As I start another lap around the sun I think about what I want to accomplish and experience on this next go around.  My priorities change each year now.  New experiences, health, learning something new, and personal sustainability seem to be recurring themes now.   Making money, career advancement, and impressing other humans seems less important each year.  Perhaps I will embrace this theory more each day and try to make the most of my time left.  I hope so, although I predict that the details of daily life will blur the big picture a lot.

Those experiences as a kid are still strong in my memory and soul.  Little cues today trigger old memories.  For example, as I write this blog post my iTunes is currently playing “Have You Seen the Stars Tonight” by Paul Kantner and Jefferson Starship — which triggers a fond memory of going to see a “laser light” show at the De Anza College planetarium in Cupertino, CA with my friend Steve Vanderford.

This was in the days before iTunes existed, and I believe that Apple computers were just being invented around that time (1977 or so).   That was a great light show though!  There was a cool guy, some might label a “Hippy”, that figured out how to display laser lights to music in a planetarium.  I am sure this must seem silly to kids today, however it was a cool thing to experience back then.  The closest thing to it now seems to be the iTunes Visualizer ( hit command-T) on a Mac while listening to iTunes.  (who knows, maybe that planetarium light show guy invented the “Visualizer” for Apple — it was in Cupertino after-all).

Although much has happened since that planetarium show, there is less clarity on the experiences in intervening period between then and now.

A take away message for me from this article is that it is so important for the younger ones to experience as much as they can in these formidable years.  What you experience as a kid and young adult will stay forever in the “RAM network” in your brain.  Look up, see the world, get outside to touch, feel, smell, see, and hear the world.

Since this next “lap” will go by even faster, I will try to experience as many “new” things as I can during 2016.

Life is short – experience it!

PS:  The image for this post was taken last week where I live in Nambé, New Mexico (about 20 miles north of Santa Fe).  There is a lot going on in the image.  The shadow the earth casts on the atmosphere each day when daylight turns into night can be seen as the bluish band on the horizon, especially to the north of the Truchas Peaks towards Taos.  The “Flying Saucer” clouds are lenticular clouds that form from high winds over mountains.  They indicate winds aloft and are good indicators  for intense wind on mountain summits.  The Sangre de Cristo mountains are happy to be cold and full of snow after too many years of drought and forest fires.  The pinks and blues are what photographers strive for when photographing during the “blue hour” — after the sunset.  Hint:  most people put their camera away and head back to their car when the sun sets.  Stick around a bit longer and you might be amazed.

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