Everybody I know, no matter what age —twenty-something or sixty-something —or where they live —big city or small town— tells me how fast they feel time flying. Of the many theories about why we perceive time to be moving so fast, the most widespread is that our days are so busy and scheduled, and our attention so fragmented, we aren’t aware of what we are doing nor remembering what we did. As Laura Vanderkam writes in Fast Company, having more memories makes you feel like you have more time.
I’ve been practicing her method for embedding memories: Ask yourself
Why is today different from other days?
Is it the walk I took with a friend?… the unexpectedly illuminating conversation I had with a stranger on the subway-ride to a meeting?.. the artwork I enjoyed in the park across the way?…
…the hawk sitting in a tree on the corner?
Asking Why is today different from other days? makes me more aware of the elements of the day, and spurs me to build in memorable moments, often by simply noticing what’s going on around me…
Which is what Li Po was doing in the 8th century…
Gently I stir a white feather fan,
With open shirt sitting in a green wood.
I take off my cap and hang it on a jutting stone;
A wind from the pine-trees trickles on my bare head.
—Li Po (8th century)