I own a house that is 102 years old. People love to tour my house to get an idea what it was like in the horse and buggy days. My house is lucky to have all it's brass pipe and tulip glass shade ceiling lights, air blown window glass, faultless hand cut and nailed woodwork, and even the skeleton keys.
I have a friend who is just as old. He is 102 years old. He has great stories to tell. He also tells me how fast a life time has blown by. He hasn't made any history himself, but you have to agree his life span covers a simply amazing string of world shaking events, including two world wars, several meaningless ones, and a few evil preemptive ones. It was the calvacade of political mountain building and destruction that makes my house seem so old!
We seem wired to see time in two strikingly contrasting ways. Life scares us for it's shortness, while in the same length of time history seems to coalesce into miles of tight strapped document bundles that are hard to separate and read.
Personally we see time slipping away at accelerated speeds as we grow older. Like Shakespeare wrote, "Out out brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow that struts and frets it's hour upon the stage and then is heard no more."
The other sense of time wired into us is a our conception of time concerning others, and stuff. Instead of our own life perception of accelerating swiftness, old stuff IS old history, evoking a sense of times incomprehensible. 102 years ago TVs, computers, fast cars, and global warming just didn't exist. There were trolleys, real victorian main streets, and continents plus mountains yet to conquer.
Here is the paradox that really impresses me. Take my 102 year old friend, one fleeting lifetime. Now, add just one more lifetime of say, 98 years to even up the centuries. It is 1800. Yes, now the mysterious ancient world is populated with fellows wearing three corner hats. Many of the signers of the Constitution are still alive. You can probably arrange an audience with Thomas Jefferson himself.
Remember, that scene change happened in merely two, just two, "Brief candles," of human existence.
Two more life times stacked on our brevity train, and we are shaking hands with the Bard himself!
Traveling past fifteen more walking shadows flitting by, and we can ask Jesus himself if he really is God.
So, which time sensibility is right? Is our time on earth woefully short? Or, is it not true that our cultural history is evolving far faster than our lives, indeed spinning out of control?