Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Where is the Time?

High school to me seems like just the other day. When we would arrive on the opening date and on that night write on the board how many days we were left with to go home. Those days felt like eternity. Three months that felt like they were just crawling by. When a day ended, it felt like two. 

While I was in primary school, Christmas holidays were so far apart. That is why I kept on yearning and yearning for them, and when they came I would relish every minute of it. Now, I do not have enough time to long for Christmas and when the holiday comes, it passes by as hurriedly as it came. I see the wonder and pleasure in my little cousins, but not on my same age cousins (Who I grew up with getting messy in my grandmother’s maize granary during harvesting period pretending that it was a swimming pool. Oh, how we dived in the maize.)

“Time flies by so fast!” “It was January the other day, now we are in April?!” “The year is already ending?” “These kids grow up so fast! You blink and they are in college” these are comments I hear almost every day in my current life as opposed to “Kwani term haiishi? ” “Bado how long to Christmas?”, some few years ago.

So does time actually pass by faster as we age? Does it suddenly decide to whiz by on us as we grow older?  It has become a common complaint. It is obvious as we grow older we do not get lesser hours per day but why then do we perceive it that way?

I took to a few science theories that try to explain this phenomena and this is what I found:
Psychologist William James, in his 1890 text Principles of Psychology, wrote that as we age, time seems to speed up because adulthood is accompanied by fewer and fewer memorable events. When the passage of time is measured by “firsts” (first kiss, first day of school, first family vacation), the lacks of new experiences in adulthood smooth themselves out and the years grow hollow and collapse.

Neuroscientist David Eagleman agrees with James on this. He says that when something is a first, everything about that moment is novel, you aren’t embroidering a bank of previous experiences, you are starting fresh. So as you look back to your childhood memories, they seem to be in slow motion. That is because when it is a ‘first’ there are so many things to remember, giving you the feeling that they must have taken forever.

Christmas days during childhood were in different venues and different themes  and each was a first, so as we grow up we exhaust the venues and start to revisit, this then leads to you not capturing a novel memory and therefore when you remember it, it wasn’t so long and special as the ones during your childhood. It kind of makes sense to me. That is why driving to a new place the first time is so long, but the second time, it is not as long, anyone else feels the same?

Researchers in a particular University came up with this one; Imagine you had an internal clock in your head to monitor the passage of time. You have to keep track of those little clicks and thus how many are going by. But if your attention is devoted to a different task, then sometimes you will miss the clicks that come by. That could explain why time flies when you are involved in a challenging activity. The likes of jobs, family, raising children etc. 

C.S Lewis also said a word about time. Eternity is also why time is unnatural to us. Otherwise we would never notice how it passes. We remark on the passage of time because we are destined for eternity. Lewis likens our remarking to a fish remarking on the wetness of water. A fish is not surprised by the wetness of water, which would be strange indeed, unless of course the fish were destined to become one day a land animal.

So the next time you wonder where your time is going, maybe these will help you figure that out:)


  1. Like seriously, you are wonderfully relatable! I always wonder why time flies faster and you have totally helped me figure it out. Beautiful as usual.

  2. Haha I know! And thanks for reading Shiku:)

  3. How the time has flown, just the other day you were following me around, thumb in mouth, asking me to wait for you. And now you are your own girl, making and owning your choices, growing into a brilliant, wise woman. I'm so proud of you, so proud. (Ferrr prout.)

    Hehehehe, kududuf kwa mahindi. Na ile ya 'ona tumbo yangu.' I won't even give the details of that. For the sake of our dignity.


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Everyone has 24 hours a day, difference is how you use it up. I am a cocktail of a lady who loves art and is tech-savvy.

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