Time is really relative

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There are 24 hours in a day, seven days in a week; but from this point it gets a bit confusing. For example, months can have 28, 29, 30, or 31 days depending which month and whether or not it’s a Leap Year when the number of days in the year increases by one. Are you confused yet? Hah! I haven’t gotten to my main question yet, so buckle your seatbelts, you’re in for a wild and bumpy ride.

Here’s the question:  Is time fixed or relative? Seems like an easy question to answer, doesn’t it. Each minute has 60 seconds, and each hour has 60 minutes. But go back to my opening paragraph and note the exceptions to these so-called fixed rules.

When you start digging into it, though, it gets even more confusing. It appears that, according to Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, a phenomenon called time dilation describes a difference of elapsed time between two events, as measured by observers that are either moving relative to each other, or differently, depending on their proximity to a gravitational mass. To put that in simple non-scientific terms, the faster we go, the more the passage of time is affected.

In other words, the faster you go, the slower time goes. It sounds like the stuff of science fiction; one of those stories where a space ship takes off and travels so fast, by the time the passengers reach their destination thousands of years have passed at their take-off point, but they’ve only experienced a few years of time. It’s enough to blow your mind, but if you’re mathematically inclined, work out the formulas and you’ll see that, theoretically it’s possible

There’s another concept of time passage that, while not as mathematically sound is nonetheless borne out by experience, and that’s ‘the older you get, the faster time passes. Think I’m just blowing smoke? Ask yourself this; how much time elapses between Christmas each year/ When you were a kid, it seemed to take forever, but once you pass the age of fifty it seems that next Christmas arrives before you’ve finished getting rid of the wrapping for the current one.

In my case, it seemed to take me fifty years to get to the age of thirty, then one day, it felt like a couple of years later, I was fifty. If you think that’s fast, it seems like I just celebrated my fiftieth birthday a couple of years ago, but my grandchildren recently reminded me that number seventy-six is only four months away. The youngsters in my neighborhood complain incessantly about how long the COVID-19 restrictions have lasted, while to me, it seems like they were put into place a few weeks ago.

I have come to the inescapable conclusion that time is definitely not a fixed constant. When I’m asked to stop writing and help with the housework (one of the hassles of working from home, by the way), the job seems to take forever, but when I’m trying to work out a plot twist so I can wrap up a new book, before I know it a whole day has gone by. I go to bed at about eleven each night, and is often the case with people my age, I have to get up at night for a bathroom call. It always feels like I just lay my head on the pillow, but darn it, four hours have gone by. Then, I go back to sleep, hopefully for another three to four hours, and bingo, the light seeping through the curtains wakes me up. I could swore I just got back in bed, but by jingo, it’s six in the morning. Where, oh where did the time go?

When I’m deeply engrossed in a story I’m writing I’m oblivious to the passage of time. I sit down and start writing and before I know it, it’s suppertime. But, that can’t be I think. I’ve only written five pages. Sure enough, though, when I look at my watch I see that four hours have flown by.

Don’t take my word for any of this. Check it out for yourself. Start doing something you don’t really like doing. You are painfully aware of every achingly passing second, and it never seems to end. Now, start doing something you like. Zing! Times up.

Time my friends is as elastic as the waist band of a brand new pair of socks. And, that’s a reality check. – NWI