31 October 2007

Perception Versus Reality

(G)Nat had a great time, but just said that she has to wait a whole year for it to come again. Ah to be young, when the interval of a year seems like a century – on the other hand, just because it seems like last year was last month, it doesn’t mean that every day wasn’t the usual ration with the usual rhythm. Even if it feels as if the boulder’s rolling faster down the hill, it still makes complete revolutions. He said, hopefully, putting a good spin on it all. Anyway, she had a great time – the neighbors have a big rope swing hanging from a tall tall tree, and all the kids took turns launching themselves into the shadows, high above the lights of the party down the hill. Happy, lucky, laughing kids.

See that's where you are wrong Mr. Lileks, each day is shorter than the last from a subjective standpoint. When you are ten years old, then one month is 1/120th of your entire lifespan. On the other hand at the age of 50, that same month only equates to 1/600th of your lifespan.

In summary, you are both right, (G)Nat is correct in seeing a month as a huge amount of time (from her perspective), and you are right that for a person of Mr. Lileks years, the months are already whizzing by (from his perspective), plus objectively, the next month (or year) is the same length for both of you, but your experience of that month will be entirely different.

And if it makes you feel any better, Mr. Lileks, I am going to buy your damn book!

Next up on "Perception Versus Reality", why the Laffer Curve really does describe economic reality, even if Democrats will never admit it . . .

1 comment:

Pastor_Jeff said...

Excellent analysis. This same insight came to me a few years ago (I think having kids helped the thought process). I realized that to a 5-year old, one year is 20% of his entire existence. The other thing is that explaining time in terms of weeks and months doesn't help them much, because they have their own relative perception of how long a week is. We've taken to using birthdays and holidays as markers: "We'll go to Florida after Christmas and after Easter and after your birthday."

Plus, as Einstein said of relativity, an hour sitting on a park bench with a pretty girl seems like five minutes; five minutes with your hand on a hot stove feels like an hour. A week of summer camp is nothing; a week of exams is forever!