Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thinking about Thinking

We've been back in the States for over 7 months now.  The time has gone by fast, but in some ways, it seems like it's been ages since I woke up in Dublin.  And yet, from another angle, the sights, sounds, smells, and memories are as fresh as yesterday.  Time and our experience of it is quite paradoxical.  Have you ever gone on a vacation that zipped by, but when you arrived back home, it seemed as if you'd been gone for a really long time?  This is called the vacation paradox.  The more we pack into a given time frame, typically the faster it seems to go by.  But when we look back on it, we tend to "keep" more of the memories.  Therefore, from another perspective, it seems like a lot of time has elapsed.

However, when we're bored and not much is going on, the time seems to pass more slowly.  But because not many eventful things have occurred in a given time frame, we have fewer memories.  The fewer the memories we take with us, the more we shrink the time in our minds.  Therefore, it may seem as if not much time has elapsed when we look back in hindsight.

Of course, the older we get, the faster times seems to pass in general.  One year in the life of someone my age is about 2.5% of one's lifetime.  But one year in the life of a 6 year old is nearly 17% of their entire life.  So while I've spent about 13% my life in Ireland, Ashlyn's spent around 83% of hers there.  And yet, when she's older, she'll have far fewer memories of our time in Ireland than me and the memories she will have will be far less clear due to her age while living in Ireland.  She'll probably have a few memories that in reality have been completely shaped by the stories she'll hear us tell her.  She will think that they are her own memories, but in fact they'll simply be things that she'll have heard us talk about.  Scientists have discovered that many of our memories are formed exactly in this way.  And even the memories that we legitimately form ourselves are altered in just the slightest way every time we bring them to mind.  That's one of the reasons two people can witness the exact same thing and come up with widely different perspectives on a given event.

These kinds of rambling ideas are the product of reading pop psychology books and thinking about thinking.  I don't know if you find these kinds of things interesting, but I do.  Here's another interesting thing to ponder.  Why is there something and not nothing? - Shay      

No comments:

Post a Comment