Time seems to roll by faster every year

At the end of every year (or the beginning of a new year, if I’m running behind, which I usually am), I archive my photos from the previous year, saving the best ones in one folder, so I can back them up to safety, and putting the rest in another folder, which is not such a high priority.

My photographs are the most visual, vivid reminder I have of how each year seems to fly by, faster and faster than the year before.

When we were little, didn’t it seem like EONS between holidays? Years between Christmases?

Yet, with each passing year, I swear the clock, and the calendar speed up, compressing time into some kind of cruel time warp.

Looking over a year’s worth of family photos and memories, surely it can’t be almost a year since Katie and I went to that ballet version of “A Secret Garden”? Or on that trip to the coast with her friend from school?

But the date on my images doesn’t lie, so it must be.

Robert Krulwich of “Krulwich Wonders” (also a co-host of “Radiolab,” one of my favorite podcasts), wrote about this phenomenon:

As people get older, “they just have this sense, this feeling that time is going faster than they are,” says Warren Meck, a psychology professor at Duke University.

This seems to be true across cultures, across time, all over the world.

No one is sure where this feeling comes from.

Scientists have theories, of course, and one of them is that when you experience something for the very first time, more details, more information gets stored in your memory. Think about your first kiss.

This part of the theory rings true to me. My childhood memories are much more vivid than recent ones. I can run into classmates from elementary school, recognize them and remember their names. Yet don’t ask me the name of that person I met at a mixer last week. It’s like my earlier memories stuck better in my young, uncluttered mind. These days, there are decades worth of data competing for space in there.

The author of this Psychology Today article has a suggestion for reducing the impact of what he calls “Groundhog Day Syndrome:

This “Groundhog Day Syndrome,” as I like to call it, can be slowed down by changing your routines and trying new things. Each of those new experiences will leave a more vivid memory than doing the same thing over and over. For example, eating at the same fancy restaurant for every celebration leads to Groundhog Day Syndrome, try a new restaurant each time, and your celebrations will seem to last longer, and you will have a greater variety of memories.

I think I’ll try that this year. New places, new routes, new routines. Maybe it will slow down the rush of time.

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