You probably know the expression:” Time flies,” don’t you? Or the feeling at the end of a holiday thinking this was too short. With the years, time seems to go faster. A week passed without realizing it, and then the weekend was gone in a blink of an eye.
Six weeks used to be a lifetime
I remember having six weeks off every summer when I was in school. And when I was a kid in primary school, that seemed like a lifetime.
I went through so many adventures with my friends. Every day we did something, and it seemed we had all the time in the world. We built rafts and huts; we biked to places we had never been before; we explored new games; we played in WW2 bunkers, and in between, we even earned some money in the flower bulb industry.
It actually surprises me because half of that summer break was taken by a three-week holiday with my parents. We would go to France, Switzerland, or Italy, which also felt like we travelled the world for ages.
I remember even looking forward to school after those six weeks. By the time the holiday came to an end, I had forgotten all about what it was to be in school and could only remember the good bits, like seeing my schoolmates and going playing outside with a friend after school.
The older, the faster
Today I sat in on the train to go to the cabin in Queens Wood to see clients, and I was thinking, where did this week go? It feels like it was only yesterday when I last went to the cabin.
I started looking back at what I did during the last two weeks and noticed I had difficulty recognizing this week's activities from last week's activities. Apart from last weekend’s Easter break, my weeks are quite routine. My days are pretty filled with activities, and I do a lot. Still, the time seems to evaporate.
A more impactful realization was that we are already 3.5 months (15 of those weeks!) into this new year. It feels like last week when I watched the fireworks in Holland from my father’s balcony with a glass of champagne, toasting on a prosperous 2023.
Who am I in what I do?
Reflecting on this, I believe it is all about who I am during my day and activities. The more present I am, the longer the day will be.
Looking at me as a young boy, I was full of life and so curious. I lived to explore, and everything I did was new. Everywhere I went seemed to be like a unique experience for my brain. There was so much to explore, to discover, and I stored every detail as a new memory.
It changed a bit when I became a teenager. The school days seemed a little duller, and the after-school activities seemed to become a little more routine. Every Tuesday, I played volleyball; every Wednesday, I went to the library; every Friday, my friends and I would circle the mall a few times, followed by a visit to our favorite pub. Yes, the weekends seemed to differ, which brought sparks into my life. Still, my brain recognized more and more, and I believe it started categorizing the experiences instead of storing them as new memories.
At the beginning of my working career, I had a job where I traveled worldwide. Plus, I traveled for five weeks every summer. That seemed to feed my brain with new experiences. I lived the unique sceneries, cultures, tastes, and smells. It feels that the first years of my working life were quite long and diverse until I started to visit some of the sites repeatedly.
This is it! It seems that when the experience is not new anymore, my cerebral recorder is paused and stops storing memories… so when I play back memories, those pieces of time seem to be missing, which makes the playback a lot shorter.
The more present I am, the more I record
I notice this, for example, on the train or tube. Looking back at the journey, it is hard for me to remember the details of my trip. I am less present, have seen the surroundings before, and just switch off until I arrive.
Even during all the activities I do during the week, there is not much that my brain is picking up as a new experience, so it will just categorize it.
And I realize that this is a choice. I can let this happen, or I can choose something different. I can choose to be present and to be curious. I can choose to look at things from a new perspective, with a child-like curiosity.
A longer life
I can go with the opinion that the trip to the cabin is the same as I took many times before, or I can look around and see that the people on the train or tube are different people with different stories and personalities that accompanied me last week.
If I walk in the park close to my house, I can choose to see that the park is different than last week. The weather, the colors, and the stage of the trees sprouting are different.
If I visit a friend, I can tell myself it’s the same friend, or I can be curious about our dynamic today, their mood today, or can I even notice the differences in appearance?
If I make that choice, if I look at every experience from the curiosity I had as a young boy, I believe I can prolong my life. I think six weeks can feel like a lifetime again!
A curious world
I love curious people; it inspires me. I would love to contribute to a world where everybody is interested, where people see each other as unique beings and look at the world from a kid's eyes.
This is often also the focus of my work. People that suffer from depression or burnout, or people that are just stuck in life, benefit from finding their curiosity again. They benefit from all the little gifts this curiosity gives them moment by moment.
How curious are you? How long are your weeks?