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Sensing motion and the passage of time

When it comes to motion, we sense changes in acceleration, not constant speed. If you think about flying in a plane, this is obvious: it's during takeoff and landing that your body feels the sense of speed, but once you're in the sky (hopelessly trying to sleep in the cramped seat with some fat dude snoring next to you), you could be going 5 mph or 500,000 mph - the speed is constant, so your body doesn't sense it.

I think the same concept applies to aging. When we're "coasting" through life - in school, at work, in a relationship - we don't sense the time flying by. Everything's happening at a relatively constant speed, so we just go about our lives. It's what some people call being "in a rut". When life accelerates (graduating from school, getting a job promotion, starting a new relationship) and especially when it decelerates (failing to pass a grade, getting fired, or getting dumped), we're forced to pay attention and we gain a sudden awareness of the time that's passed. Life catches up with us.

The lucid moments that these life transitions cause can be unsettling, especially if it's been a long time since you've evaluated your life. You might suddenly realize that a career as a telephone switchboard operator may not be the best choice, or that your long-distance relationship with that girl in Mozambique just isn't working out. Despite the shock such realizations bring, they're great opportunities to figure out if you're moving in the right direction, so take advantage of them!

Source: Wikipedia: Vestibular system (Otolithic organs)


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