Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity in part states that a moving clock ticks slower than a stationary clock. The theory goes that as a clock’s velocity increases it continues to measure time at a slower and slower rate until it reaches the speed of light at which point it stops altogther. I hold that Einstein didn’t have to do a lot of complicated math to figure this out. All he had to do was talk with a four year-old and someone middle aged.
Remember how important that half year was before you got to school? You were never going on three, or four. No, you were four and a half. That half became crucial at some point in early childhood. It separated you from the younger kids, the babies, who weren’t as grown up as you and didn’t get to do as many things. That half was important probably from when you were old enough to answer the question about your age until you were about nine or ten.
That half year stopped mattering somewhere around puberty when we all started measuring in bigger, societal driven milestones like getting a driver’s license, or being able to vote, or drink, or join the military without parental permission. And for most of us that half year pretty much ceased to exist once we turned twenty-one. Then something strange started to happen: those societal milestones we measure by started to be ones we dread.
- You’re twenty five – Oh, the quarter century report must be due [wink wink].
- You’re thirty – Are you planning on having kids? Getting a “real job?” Buying a house?
- You’re thirty-five: What? You still haven’t had kids yet? Isn’t your clock ticking?
- You’re forty: Well, they say forty is the new thirty. And you get all this wisdom in your forties that you didn’t have before.
There’s no point in mumbling it any more I turned 45 last August, and it kinda freaked me out. It took me months to figure out why, but I’m fortunate to have wise friends who are just about my age. As we were discussing this turn of events, this random number causing me so much psychic distress, I allowed as how turning thirty had not been a big deal. I had been looking forward to my thirties.
Turning forty also made nary a blip on the psychic radar. It was a relief to leave my thirties, when I made all of my biggest, most catastrophic mistakes, behind to start fresh in a new decade wiser and even more societally invisible than I already was. But forty-five was something else. It wasn’t until my friend R. pointed out why: At 45 I was rounding up to 50 instead of still rounding down to 30.
The Special Theory of [Aging] Relativity is this: Time never moves at the rate you want it to move no no matter what your age.