Another New Year

There's an old saying that the older you get, the faster life goes.

It's painfully true.

A theory has been postulated that time is simply a sensory effect of the intersection of our minds with the interplay of quantum materials; as mathematics has proven the existence of a number of dimensions, and we are only capable of sensing four of them, we are woefully and inadequately equipped to deal with -- let alone control -- the passage of time.

From a computational perspective, it is as though our brains - these biological mechanisms which act as vast parallel 'computers' - accumulate processes throughout our lives which require slices of time in order to perform their proper function. As the time required to execute these processes aggregate into a larger portion of our waking hours, our perception of the relative velocity of time changes. We begin to experience individual moments in time as occurring further and further apart; that is, when that portion of our mind which looks at the internal clock to synchronize itself with the outside world is taking longer and longer between 'peeks', with the result that we perceive time as moving faster and faster.

This is especially true in the latter years as our physiological processes take longer and longer to execute as they try to work around all the damaged circuits which have occurred over the years due to age, injury, accident, or cumulative medical effects (e.g. taking migraine meds every day for millions of years).

And of course there is the issue of trusting our memory. As has been proven in numerous studies, our memories are inherently faulty and subject to alteration during recollection, such that our memories of our younger lives are simply not to be trusted. We may think that time passed slower in our younger days, but that is because we had far fewer memories to process, and far fewer tasks to accomplish.

And, worse of all, our recollections of shared events are never the same as those of the people with whom we shared them. This was brought home to me rather recently when I was sharing some memories of my life back in New York with someone who was actually there. And she had completely different memories of the events, to the point where I wondered if I had only dreamed them.

It is one of the most frustrating things about being human.

On a side note, this calls into question the stories we have heard and/or read by authors who did not actually write them down until years (or decades) after the events occurred. How can we trust such accounts? We know that the probability of providing an accurate account after all those years is unfathomably small, and that the best we can hope for is to gather enough witnesses to accumulate, among the wide variance of accounts, some core agreement of the event for which we can have some modicum of confidence.

Photographs help. Videos are even better.

Now I wish that I'd captured more moments of my life in some form of indestructible medium. Or that someone had invented some kind of time-travel device which, without violating the laws of physics, allows me to travel back in time through my own experiences -- strictly as an observer, of course; no murdering my grandfather to test the Paradox Theory!! -- just to make sure my brain hasn't turned to mush over the last fifty years.

But back to the subject at hand. A new year has arrived. What am I going to do about it?

It occurs to me that over the past few years, the one thing that has bothered me most of all is my inability to acquire and maintain friendships. I am not a good friend, being a total washout when it comes to time management and thus being resentful of people who require my attention when I have a huge backlog of Things To Do. For this coming year, I would like to take a few baby steps to establish (and re-establish) some friendships so that when it comes my time to "shut down all processes and exit this mortal realm", there might actually be some people beyond the family circle who think of me.

And not because I owe them money.


The New Year

In the New Year, she promised herself, it will be different. I will be different. Everything will be different.

She woke up at her usual hour on the first day of the New Year and looked over at the alarm clock on her nightstand which proudly displayed the same time as always - 5:30 a.m. - but did not ring because she never had to set the alarm. She didn't set the alarm any more, not since she had left that horrible job. Yet she still managed to wake up every morning at the same time.

The bed was warm and cozy, but there were things to do, and she didn't want to start out the New Year on the wrong foot. She rolled out of bed while still holding onto the covers as though she could pull all the heat along with them; the room was cold and she wanted to keep as much of the heat with her as possible, for as long as she could.

This year, she said, I'll keep the heat set higher, then quickly changed her mind as the thought of the electric bill popped into her mind. She walked across the room to the thermostat and noted that it was set to sixty degrees, which was perfectly comfortable when a body was wrapped in a warm cocoon of self-heated blankets and only the face was exposed, but not quite so comfortable when one needed to move around in it protected only by a flimsy set of pajamas. Her terry-cloth robe hung on the hook on the door of the bathroom; she moved from the thermostat to the door to take it down and put it on and then luxuriate for a few moments in the cozy warmth, rubbing the collar of the robe against the sides of her face.

It felt so good. It smelled even better, that familiar scent of freshly-washed laundry with a slight hint of spice. That's what I want in my New Year, she said. Comfort with just a hint of spice. No more surprises, no more stress.

If only.

She strolled into the kitchen trying with difficulty not to rush, holding back the built-in urge to hurry so that she could enjoy the day, the timeless day which had endless possibilities in front of it and nothing but regrets behind. She filled the tea kettle, lit the burner on the stove, set the kettle on top, reached up onto the shelf to take down her favorite mug, pulled out the drawer where she kept her supply of teas and selected a vanilla-flavored green variety. The aroma wafted into the air and curled around her face. It reminded her of a bakery. Suddenly she was standing in front of a counter looking through the selection of donuts and croissants and rolls, doused in generous quantities of icing, and her mouth felt warm and moist and ... empty. Do I have any pastries? she asked. But there was no answer.

While the water was heating, she opened the little pantry door beside the refrigerator and noticed with some delight that there was still half a box of cookies, just the right amount to have with a cup of tea. She pulled them out and put them on a plate she got out of the cupboard, then put them on the little kitchen table and sat down, listening to the creaking of the tea kettle. Just a few more minutes.

Absently she nibbled on the cookies while thinking of the New Year. What would it be like? What new adventures would she experience? What new people would suddenly appear in her life? Where would her career take her? Would she even have a career by the end of it?

The tea kettle started whistling. She stood up and poured the hot, boiling water into the waiting mug. The steam from the cup rose like a whirlwind towards her face, enveloping her in the sensation of being borne aloft in a sugar-coated balloon. She smiled. And sighed. And sipped.

Another year. Who knew what it might bring?