I'm 18, just reaching legal "adulthood" in the United States. What I've found is that, as I've gotten older and had more experiences, I've begun to realize more about life. This has made me curious as to what people older than myself have learned about the world. Mind sharing an answer and increasing this youngster's wisdom? And is there a way to accelerate my learning through experiences like this guy talks about...?
In my 20s, I started wondering why the years seemed to be passing faster than when I was a kid. I wondered if there was a deeper reason for that perception, something else than the simple explanation that “one year is an ever smaller portion of your total years alive.” This quest led me to an awakening that has fundamentally shaped my life ever since.
For a child, every experience is a new one. The world is full of mystery and adventure. Your imagination is the only limit to the possibilities. Every day, you encounter exciting new things. Every play teaches you something new. Every discussion educates you new words. Every fairy tale expands your imagination.
The smallest treats, like a scoop of ice cream, watching airplanes take off, or jumping into a tiny pond after a rain will make you happy and excited. Your happy dances melt the hearts of all adults around you.
As we get older, we get used to almost anything. We start developing habits, rituals and traditions that keep repeating day after day, month after month, and year after year. It takes a lot to make us excited.
Monday to Friday, we go to work.
3 days a week, we go running. Or swimming. Or to the gym.
On a weekend, we watch a football game. Or some other sports. Or go to our local bar. Or visit the church.
Every holiday, we go to see our relatives.
Every summer, we go to our vacation home.
There is nothing inherently bad about these habits and rituals, they bond us with people who matter to us, they create an air of safety and make our lives predictable and comfortable. But, here’s the kicker:
When you repeat a routine, you don’t add new memories. At best, you will enrich an existing memory. You can’t separate the memories of your workdays from each other. You won’t create new memories of your vacation home visits anymore. You won’t be able to tell, which year your aunt brought a special cake for your family’s thanksgiving dinner - you just remember that it happened one Thanksgiving.
That is why you think your year is shorter - it is shorter because you did not gain many new memories! For our children, all the memories are new. This is why a year feels so much longer to them.
If you lived your day like a child, your year would feel much longer. I know, because I learned to live that way. I have gained many, many new memories by living in multiple countries, by studying new subjects, by avoiding developing routines, by not planning my vacations in advance. I developed a child-like excitement about my passions and startup ideas. Let me tell you, it has been liberating. I’m deeply grateful that I figured that out early.
You may have heard the aphorism that you should live every day as if it was your last. I disagree. Our kids educate us that our happiness and excitement is in learning and experiencing something new. It is in living each day as if it was your first.
Instead of living today like it would be the last day of your life, live today like it is the first day of your new life. Free from the baggage of the past. Fully open for new adventures and learning. Full of hope and opportunity.
Photo: My daughter, giddy with excitement, and ready to build a sand castle.
Update: Thank you for all the love.