Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Math of Aging

The older I get the faster time seems to pass. I've always felt this and have heard many others make this observation. There is, of course, a mathematical explanation since each successive year in one's life is a smaller fraction of one's lived life so far. At age 6 a year is a whole sixth of one's life whereas at 60 it is a sixtieth.

The speed of life also tends to slow down with the passing of the years. Athletes lose a yard, reaction time increases and and tasks around the house that used to take half an hour now need two hours to complete.

There also seems to be an inverse correlation between the accumulation of wisdom and one's ability to recall facts, names and fundamental relationships. I've always thought that wisdom is the ability to use one's knowledge and understanding in a beneficial way within a social context. I think it  would be difficult to be wise in the forest, so to speak, in the same sense that if one were not there, the falling tree would make no sound.

The finances of aging also take on a different character and dimension. The things one buys change since one has accumulated most of life's essential material things. One learns to do with less, want less, and wish there was less sometimes.

Geometrically life seems to take on a downhill slope having passed over a crest of some sort. When you look back you start looking uphill instead of downhill all the way back to one's birth. I find myself sneaking a look around the crest or the hump to see things way back in the past. The geometric shape of the individual years also seems to have changed. It's flatter and has fewer peaks and valleys; summer tends to resemble a wide valley while winter looks like a plateau. Spring and fall don't seem to count in the shape of the year any more.

The frequency of doing mindless things seems to increase too. I poured a can of dry dog food into the garbage can the other day instead of putting it in the dog's food bowl. A week ago I mislaid the potato peeler and finally found it in the draw under the computer table.

The geometry of one's physical shape also seems to change but I don't think I'll go there. The dog did eventually get fed by the way.

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