Opinion: Why Time Flies and Passes Quickly in Modern Times

John M. Dabbs

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Time flies when we aren't looking.Kool Shooters/Pexels

When I was a kid, I wanted to be a teen. When I was a teen, I wanted to be an adult. When I was an adult, I wanted to be experienced. Now that I'm experienced, I wish I was a kid.

Time doesn't stand still

We all know time stands still for no one, yet it does drag on when we watch a clock or a pot of water. It's because we are engaged in something. Time flies when we our minds are in neutral, like when we're "Facebooking" or playing video games, watching television, or listening to the radio.

It's bad enough that time flies so quickly and we are unable to get enough done in the time we allocate for things. I believe it is because we are getting conditioned to not live in the moment.

In the moment

It's hard to live in the here and now when we are finishing up our Christmas shopping (My wife is usually finished by the end of November, but not me.) and walk into a department store only to find all of the Christmas stuff is now packed away in another part of the store. What's on the shelves? Valentine's Day stuff.

Good grief! We can't even enjoy the season and get through it before mercandisers and marketing experts are thrusting the next season and holiday upon us. It's January and now the Valentine's Day stuff is getting a little stale on the shelves. It doesn't matter because next week they'll probably have Easter candy and decorations on sale. They pair nicely with the cute little sundresses and shorts hanging on racks in the middle of winter. I'm glad we aren't expecting another snowstorm until this weekend so I can run out and buy a new pair of flip-flops and some sunscreen at the store before the snow hits.

Wishing time away

Perhaps we spend too much time wishing away our time. I wish it was time for vacation... I wish the weekend would hurry up and get here... etc.

When I go camping I'm in the moment. I don't wish for anything because life is good. There is something about being in the outdoors on purpose without having to work that makes it relaxing for me, and many others. It doesn't matter if we are in the mountains on a ski trip, or taking a nice hike in the park near home, the moment is enjoyable.

Perhaps we need to take note of what is going on around us and engage to get more out of the time we have. It's too easy to surf the net all day and not interact with anyone. This is also a shallow and self-absorbed life when spent this way. We need more face-to-face interaction and interaction with each other without a computer or phone screen in the middle.

Quality time is all about the quality we put in to receive quality in return. Giving of ourself is what matters. Spending time with our children, friends, and colleagues at work are all important. Family and friends should always come first, but that doesn't mean we can't meaningful interaction when at work too. It helps build solid relationships and gives meaning to our lives.

We shouldn't be wishing time away. It's not something we can ever get back, so we need to enjoy it while we can. The pressures of life in modern times has emphasized less personal interaction and more impersonal interaction. Texting and e-mailing isn't the same as getting together, talking, or calling. Even writing a letter by hand puts more of yourself into the exchange than a simple chat, email, or text. I think we are losing this touch of humanity to technology - am I wrong?

Mileposts of time

We see many mileposts marking time for us - birthdays, anniversaries, and New Year's Day to name a few. The artificial mileposts seem to weigh more heavily on us and cause more anxiety than real ones.

Black Friday sales before Black Friday even arrives is a good example. As previously mentioned, the Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreen's, Lowe's, and Home Depot stores putting items out months before it's even time to prepare to decorate force us to think ahead. We should be allowed to enjoy the moment and the holiday we are in without having the upcoming holiday and season's latest and greatest thrust upon us.

Sure it makes sense to start buying a few thing before the holiday or weather are upon us, but there are realistic timelines and then there is just being outright ridiculous. It's a pet peeve of mine. Thank you for listening to me rant about this and get it out of my system. Happy Thanksgiving! (in 10 months).

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An outdoor enthusiast with a passion for travel and adventure. John is a professional consultant and photojournalist.

Bristol, TN
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