Sunday, May 23, 2021

"Perceived Time" is not a linear entity

Playing chess in Pousada do Castelo de Óbidos
"Why time goes faster as we age" is a question often asked to the Google Gods. Just do  Google search yourself and find interesting and satisfactory answers that the perception of time going faster as we get older s universal. The logic is simple. When you are 10 years old, 1 year is 10% of your lifetime so far. When you are 30 years old, 1 year is just 3% of your time so far. So, as you get older, you start to perceive that time goes faster.

Sounds simple. right? But no. It is not entirely true. Perceived time gets extremely tricky. Sad and boring days go slow. The pandemic 2020 with mostly lock down and work from home home-alone felt to be moving in a snail speed. But looking back, it also feels like time went fast. boring periods feel differently when you experience it vs. when you look at it later.

I also kept moving across nations pretty fast between 2012 - 2018, every year living in 2 countries in average. When you arrive in a country, you feel like your life starts from scratch. Especially if you knew no one from the country, you could really redefine yourself. I often feel like a blank white sheet when I arrive in a country for the first time. As I was living a nomadic life from 2012 - 2018, I rarely bought many things. Any stuff I bought, I had to throw away as I moved to another country. Then, we buy new things in the other country that we arrive. It was like getting new blood. But since 2018 June, I am in Atlanta. Almost 3 years with no change in location, even the apartment. With 3 years, my minimalist lifestyle has slightly changed as things accumulate at home. Also, unlike the new blood coming in when you move around, staying in one place makes you gather more garbage. Things break, and we have to buy new things - not because we threw away things when we moved to another country - but rather, things decay - the wear and tear.

The first academic year in Lisboa went quite fast - but also left ever-lasting memories of friendships, romance, smiles, and tears. But I have also reviewed and relived those memories several times. I have gone through those photos repeatedly. I fondly called those times, "those days," especially the first 6 months of Lisboa. The first year of Lisboa - I lived it again and again, every time I returned to Portugal from other countries such as Sweden, Croatia, Belgium, and USA. Now, looking back, the period between 2012 August - 2013 July feels like quite a long time, compared to the rest of time in my life such as 1987 - 2012 and 2014 - 2021.

I used to write weekly blog posts during my first academic year in Portugal. Then, when I moved to Sweden, I started writing monthly posts. Then upon return to Lisboa, I intermittently blogged my life. I resumed the weekly blog posts during the early COVID19 days of 2020, which I later stopped as WFH was normalized and became normal. Especially with the vaccine, now we feel we may get back to normal life soon. The cases still remain high though. Those excitement of weekly posts also brings a perception of long days when I look back at 2012 - 2013 in Lisboa. We don't remember the events. We remember the last time we remembered the events. When we repeatedly recall an event, it starts to feel closer than it actually is.

When I go on a long-trip that lasts more than 2 weeks, the first half goes feels long. But the second half goes too fast. Maybe that the first half is like the 100% of time I have been in that place where the second half is just the 50%? As I am getting used to all the new places, nowadays, once I land on a new city, the very second day I start to feel home even if I am just staying in a hotel.

Things felt differently when I was young. We used to eagerly wait for the annual trips during our middle-school days. We just started with one-day trips to the villages of Sri Lanka, which became two day trips from grade 9 onward. The 2-day trip involved sleeping over in a new village, and got all of us excited. 2010, my trip to Paris for SoCPaR was both my first foreign trip as well as my first conference experience. As such, it felt special. Now, as I have been to 46 countries and hundreds of cities, such an excitement becomes harder to achieve. I have to go to a farther interesting place to indeed feel the same excitement. Still, I surprise myself in a few exciting trips, such as my visits to Panama or New Orleans.

Perceived time is a weird construct. Trying to explain it makes no sense. This is my conclusion. Long live the memories of our young days.

* Embedded music videos are from INNA. I spent the best days of my life since 2012 (from 2012 and ongoing) listening to her music. It is like growing old with her music, witnessing how her music also evolves and matures. Listening to her music from 2012 - 2013 days takes me back on the memory lanes.

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