The Weight of Experience.

Talking about the passing of time after work one night with a colleague, an interesting idea arose which has stayed with me… I’ve been thinking a lot and here it is:

When we are young, a unit of time, say a week, is a larger portion of our lives; to a one year old, a week is 1/52 of their total time lived. As we grow up the same unit of time begins to become smaller, to a 30 year old for example a week is 1/1560 of their life. Even though the week is physically the same (in terms of the movement of the Earth around the sun) it is experientially much smaller…

The adult life is experienced through routines, and data that we have accrued during our lives. So much data that we don’t really need to experience certain things any more to do them… Think about making a cup of tea, or doing shoe laces, something that can be done with minimum thought or effort. How often do you notice the sound of an aeroplane going overhead, or the colour of a bus, or the smell of the street? Do we experience these things? Or just exist alongside un-noticed occurrences, and as part of events where we respond automatically, unthinking, to stimuli that fails to stimulate anything but a rehearsed response…

When we are younger we are seeing things for the first time, learning new things, experiencing the world around us and all the things in it.

“Mum, what’s that?”

“that’s a puddle, dear”

“what’s a puddle?”

“when it rains, puddles are formed”

(child looks up) “why does it rain?” etc…  

The child is interacting with the world in many ways and thus a unit of time is heavier experientially. Mummy hardly sees the puddle really, until little Johnny asks or starts splashing…

As adults we are often “somewhere else” when experiencing the world; thinking about dinner on the bike ride home, day-dreaming about a holiday at work or having lunch with a partner, remembering how things were when you first met… In this disconnection from our immediate experience we are devaluing the unit of time experientially, and thus it passes without much notice, when we look at our lives, we say “wow, this year is going so fast!” another colleague might say “it seems to get faster the older you get…” and they’re right, it does seem to. We experience less during time; we experience time less.

The thing is to try and connect with our experiences and so really live the time we have. However, this would take some mental training, a revaluation of the value of experience and an understanding that experience is a deeply personal thing. Your green isn’t the same as my green, you have your experience of the colour green and I mine. Bacon frying in a pan has physical properties; the heat, the evaporation of liquid within the meat, and there are physical occurrences in us as we see the meat change colour, hear the sizzling sounds of its frying, smell the particles in the air around us or feel the heat of the hob. However, your experience of these occurrences is something just for you, and mine for me… The tendency is to accept a given value of the experience of an everyday occurrence and to not notice them at all, a bus is just red; that is it. Occasionally something from this order of events or occurrences will get through and we’ll experience them, often a smell; a certain perfume in the air while walking in the street will evoke an image in memory, maybe I smile look around, and notice other things about my surroundings, now I interact with what is around me psychically, and experience it more fully…

Seeking experiences out of our routines,  seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling, experiencing things we haven’t before, or trying to experience them in different settings, with others we’ve never shared these experiences with before… Or even better; learning something new, being active, engaging with the world around us mean we don’t ignore the passing time, but we really live it…  then who will care how quickly it seems to go by?

Love all round.



Published by DAP

comix and zine fan and artist. DAP x

One thought on “The Weight of Experience.

  1. Hi Jimi,

    I relate to this very much and found especially since becoming a parent time is going very quickly. I went to a lecture by a psychologist who said we can slow time down and keep our brains sharp by doing regular non-strenuous exercise like walking, learning new things like hobbies, languages etc. or even better moving country/having a new partner/changing careers. He said we should make big plans for our later years instead of falling into a routine because that’s when we stop noticing and experiencing our lives in the present.

    This was the psychologist and the book he was promoting at the time, all about the plasticity of the brain:

    He also talked about how people who move countries experience “brain shock” rather than culture shock as the resident people in the new country have had time for their brains to develop according to customs and environment but the newcomer’s brain hasn’t and needs to adapt fast.

    He said habits are physical connections in the brain which is what makes them so hard to change.

    Fascinating stuff!

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