One of the weirdest things about time is how it seems to accelerate as we age. The best explanation I’ve heard of this is that as you grow older, one year is becoming a smaller and smaller percentage of the total number of years you’ve lived so far. For example, one year to a five-year-old is twenty percent of her life. One year to a fifty-year-old is only two percent of her life. When I was in college, four years sounded like forever. Now that I’m in my forties, it sounds a whole lot shorter.

What do we do about it?

First, when you’re in the “time is dragging so slowly” phase of your life, it would be wise for you to recognize that this won’t always be true of you. We older people can be super annoying when we talk to you about “time a-flying” but it won’t be long before you’re noticing it too. In the meantime, you can console yourself with the thought that though time is not flying for you presently–this is a kind of grace that older people are nostalgic about and long to have back. Say to yourself, “I know this seems like it’s taking forever, but someday I’ll look back and realize it was merely a moment. Perhaps there are ways to be more fully present during this slowness, and resist the urge to wish it away.”

If you’re older, it’s important to not get freaked out by the acceleration. Because it is scary. The work is to leverage that fear into a holy urgency to do the most good you can today. It’s also important that the fear doesn’t take over into a kind of panic that makes you too aggressive with the calendar–trying to schedule All The Things. Younger folks probably don’t love to be lectured about the fleetingness of time, so it’s important to steward your mentorship well in conversations when you’re tempted to laugh at some one who despairingly says, “But that’s a whole month from now!” Likewise, be careful not to pine too much for the past. Rather, use the past in order to be fully present in the now, and hopeful about the future.