Time Won’t Give Me Time

Posted on in Todd Talks by Todd Johnson

Don’t blink.  

That’s how I feel about each day as an adult. Sometimes it feels like an entire week passes by in a single day, whereas when I was a kid, the weekend seemed to take forever to come and last a satisfying amount of time. 


A popular theory is that when someone is young, a period of time makes up a larger part of their entire life and even more of their memory. For example, to a 10-year-old, one year makes up 10% of their life. And since we can’t usually recall much – if any of our first couple years of life – a year makes up even more of their conscious memories. Conversely, the same time period for a 60-year-old is a much smaller part of their life, and therefore a much smaller part of their memories, so that 1 year could seem to have passed much quicker.  

Now that I am a parent, I can see how differently adults and children perceive time. If my kids ask when dinner is, and I answer with “10 minutes” they will groan and act like 10 minutes is akin to waiting a year. I remember as a kid in school being told I couldn’t go out for recess with my classmates and that I would have to wait for 5 minutes because of something I did (not a shock to anyone who knows me). That 5 minutes felt like I was missing the entire day. This can even be demonstrated. If you ask a child to close their eyes and then open them once they think a minute has passed, they typically open them after about 40 seconds. That same test with an adult would reveal that the adult is able to gauge a minute fairly accurately, and maybe would let more than 60 seconds pass before opening their eyes.  

Do you remember those long summer days as a kid? It seemed like you could fit so much fun into one day. That is because, to children, all things are happening so fast and so much is being processed, time seems to slow down. Like a high-speed camera capturing so many frames per minute, the end result is a slow-motion video. As we age, the speed at which we process our days and the things that happen in them, slows down. This leads to fewer frames being processed, and the result is a slower video which speeds time up.  

Of course, these are just theories right now. Maybe someday we will unlock this great mystery, and the greater mystery of time itself. Just don’t expect me to be able to understand it.