Why Time Flies
Do you find time passes by more quickly every year? There is a simple explanation for this phenomenon. Let’s take a little walk through life to see what we can learn about why time flies! Life and its stages
People have been writing about the brevity of life for thousands of years. But it is one thing to write about it and another to live it into old age. There is much to learn if we are to get the most out of our lives. Who doesn’t want to live the best life possible? Without examining where you have been, where you are, and where you are going, you leave your life to happenstance. As that well-known greek philosopher said millennia ago:
“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates (c.470–399 BC)
All it takes to live your best life is some planning and taking action in the direction you want to go. Easy to say, but not always easy to do. But it doesn’t have to be that difficult unless you make it that way! It’s your life, and you only live it once. If you take it seriously, you will find great rewards. If not, oh well… It is your choice, and you can do what you wish. Let’s look at the three stages of life to see what they can teach us.
“The older you get, the faster time passes in your mind, so use your time according to what is most important.” A.J. Darkholme
Do you remember those days when you were young, and it seemed like life would last forever? I still recall the feeling of those endless summers when I was a child. In elementary school, I lived just outside of San Diego. It was so much fun roaming the desert-like valleys, catching horned toads, trapdoor spiders, lizards, and scorpions. Some days seemed to go on forever. I quickly discovered my mother did not like my newfound little friends in the house. Especially not the scorpions! The three months of summer break seemed to last forever. But so did the other nine in school! For the next eight years, we would live what seemed like a lifetime in Asia, Hawaii, and Europe before finally returning to my home state of Virginia. By the time I hit my late teens and became an adult, it seemed I had my entire life ahead of me, and I did. But looking back, I now see how it had begun to accelerate. Although in my 20s and 30s, things began to move more quickly, my awareness of time was not as keen as it was to become. I remember my little girl becoming too big to carry in my arms. Then she started getting too old to hold our hands in the mall. We endured the horrors of getting her learner’s permit when she turned 15 and a half! Just joking about the horrors part. Well, maybe not completely! I recall thinking how quickly my daughter had grown, almost overnight, from this beautiful perfect little girl into this young teenager asking for the car keys. Then off to college to mature into a beautiful young woman. My wife was only 20 when she was born, so we became empty-nesters in our late 30s! We were always the youngest parents of our daughter’s friends. As I reflect on those 20 or so years of early adulthood, they went by far too quickly. I didn’t realize how work had consumed my life until it was too late. The years passed with only memories remaining. How I wish I had taken more time to slow down and smell the roses.
“You’re only here for a short visit. Don’t hurry, don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way.” Walter Hagen (1892–1969)
Climbing the ladder rapidly during my 30s, I was thrust into my 40s quickly. I remember realizing I was entering the prime of my life and thinking it would last well into my 50s. The world was my oyster as I finally became responsible for running a company, something I had always wanted to achieve. A funny thing that isn’t too funny is as you near 50, you begin losing more people to death. Relatives, friends, old colleagues, and bosses pass away. I still remember the wake-up call I had in my early 40s. A customer who was also a good friend was on a short flight from Mobile to Birmingham. He had flown the small commuter airline many times but didn’t make it this time. The plane crashed near Birmingham, killing all but two people on board. Going to David’s funeral is forever burned into my memory. Here he was in the prime of his life, an accomplished businessman with a beautiful family. In an instant, his wife became a widow, and his young children were left fatherless. My heart still breaks when I think about how he died so young.
“The meaning of life is to give life meaning.” Ken Hudgins (1928–1982)
Once I hit my mid-50s, the reality of only having a few years left in business began to sink in. My wife and I put together a 5-year plan for me to retire at 60. Those final years at work flew by. A few months after my 60th birthday, I retired. Never standing still for long, I went to Duquesne University to become a certified coach specializing in executive leadership. It was a great experience, and I continue to learn much about life and how to live it to the fullest. Since retiring a second time, I have spent most of my free hours writing. So far, I have published my first book and am approaching 1000 published articles. I also spend a few hours weekly as a part-time editor for three publications. I may slow down a bit sometime in the future, but not so long as I enjoy writing, as it is an integral part of creating my legacy. There is little that is more fulfilling than helping others. Time continues to accelerate. Years now seem to pass in a few months, seasons are over in weeks, and weeks fly by! Since retiring the second time, I have been saying every day is Saturday but Sunday. Let me tell you, Sundays come around more quickly than I can believe. Many years ago, I heard time appears to accelerate as you age because you have lived so much more of it. A year is a large portion of your life when you are ten years old, representing one-tenth of the life you have lived to that point. But when you are 50, one year represents only 2% of your life. While time remains constant, in our minds, a year, a month, or a week becomes an ever-smaller part of our overall life, thereby giving the illusion of time flying by.
“The greatest surprise in life to me is the brevity of life.” Billy Graham (1918–2018)
“For you are like vapor that appears for a little while, then vanishes.” James 4:14b CSB
While I remain fully engaged each day, I must admit that the weeks, months, seasons, and years are over far too quickly. Life has taught me not to take time for granted, to slow down and smell the roses more often, to enjoy life with those I love, and come to know God intimately. Considering, as a Christian, I will be in eternity beyond this short, wisp of vapor lifetime on earth, my spiritual life is the most important thing of all.
“Let those who thoughtfully consider the brevity of life remember the length of eternity.” Thomas Ken (1637–1711)
I leave you with two Bible verses I find most comforting as I age.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9b NLT . “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” Revelation 21:4 NLT May your life be long and your days filled with many precious memories! I hope to see you one day in eternity!