Perceived age velocity. Or: Why every year is getting shorter

Time is scary.

Everybody is afraid they will grow old. Even if death was not on the menu, being non-young is not fun. Fatigue, fragility, lack of agility.

In this quest of fear facing one could turn to stoicism. One of the arcane techniques of this resurgent philosophy is negative visualization. One could imagine they are old and wary and experience it in their imagination, which will then—presumably—cause them to make peace with it.

Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time.
Pink Floyd

But spooky time has another trick. Getting older feels faster as one grows older. As if the older one gets, the faster time passes.

This is completely expected, a time scientist would say a posteriori. When one is 10 years old, a new year would include 1/10th of their memories. When they would be 11 years old, the last year would comprise 10%1 of their lives. However, when one is 50 years old, a new year would comprise 1/50th, which is 2% of new memories when measured in time1. Of course, then, it feels that time speeds up. Every new year will always be smaller as the already lived memories will only keep growing.

Which brings a second negativity to visualise for the stoic response: one should also assume that the next year will go by even faster than the previous one.


  1. Assuming they remember everything since birth.