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Artistic Fun and Losing Track of Time

“Days were ages. Love bloomed and died in a day.”

― Heidi Julavits, The Folded Clock: A Diary

Why, as I’ve gotten older, do the years go by like months, the months go by like weeks, the days go by like hours, and the minutes go by like seconds?

According to Duke University researcher Adrian Bejan, it’s all physics.

Here’s the abstract of Bejan’s theory:

“Why does it feel that the time passes faster as we get older? What is the physical basis for the impression that some days are slower than others? Why do we tend to focus on the unusual (the surprise), not on the ever present? This article unveils the physics basis for these common observations. The reason is that the measurable ‘clock time’ is not the same as the time perceived by the human mind. The ‘mind time’ is a sequence of images, i.e. reflections of nature that are fed by stimuli from sensory organs. The rate at which changes in mental images are perceived decreases with age, because of several physical features that change with age: saccades frequency, body size, pathways degradation, etc. The misalignment between mental-image time and clock time serves to unite the voluminous observations of this phenomenon in the literature with the constructal law of evolution of flow architecture, as physics.”

In other words, kids can process information more quickly and more often than I can.

This got me thinking about being a kid and those long afternoons when I built monster models or played in the woods with my friends. Later I would have this same sensation of losing track of time while directing rehearsals, being on stage, and in recent years, writing plays.

We artists love to be in a state of seemingly endless play and imagining. Artists just want to have fun. As I’ve gotten older, I sometimes forget to make fun a priority. Today, as an experiment, while eating breakfast, on the computer at work, and driving my car I said to myself, “This moment is the most fun I've ever had.”

Saying this forced me to find the fun in the present. And I did. Not surprisingly, I felt like a kid experiencing actions for the first time and seeing things anew.

“I am wearing the COOLEST pajamas!”

“I am driving a CAR!”

“I am using a COMPUTER!”

The old cliches became true -- colors were brighter and time felt longer. This happened instantaneously. All it took was the simple cue of “This moment is the most fun I've ever had.” to redirect my thinking out of adulting and into delight. Let me know if you try it.

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