Perception of time changes as we develop through life. Long waits in a queue and never-ending Mondays disappear into no-existence all thanks to our ability to see things in perspective (according to one of my favourite theories).
Its principle is simple. If you are just starting out in business and barely scrambling to stay afloat a million dollars in your bank account seems like an impossible gift from above. A couple of decades later when you are an established billionaire with a few companies, a fixed hairline and outrageous Twitter posts a million dollars in your favourite denomination is just a spare change.
A teenager sees a day as a long measure of time but a 40-year-old version of the same person can’t remember where a year went let alone 24 hours. It is because the perception of time is based on a comparison of what we lived so far.
This principle is a perfect tool when dealing with life struggles. My parents used to respond to my unfair demands for new toys when I was a kid – “Some people can’t afford to buy food, you should be lucky with what we have”. At the time I did not understand the argument but now I remember my dad telling me a story about how he learnt to play the piano. Back in the late 60s general population in the Soviet Union learnt to be happy with what they had. They had no other choice.
My dad took lessons at a local music school and became really good at playing. Those who learnt to play musical instruments know that the magic of mastery is hidden in the long practice hours outside of the music school. The problem was even though both of my grandparents had full-time jobs they could not possibly afford to buy a piano.
The solution was to create a keyboard out of cardboard with painted keys and practice on that. No sound, no sense of how hard the keys were pressed just hours of repetition. When my grandparents finally bought a piano it stayed with my family after grandma passed away and it became my practice instrument.
Last night I was sitting on a side of a hill facing the ocean. The sky was clear and a warm wind was moving the grass near me. Despite the light pollution, the stars were awesomely bright. A glass of wine on an occasion puts a philosopher hat on my head as it happened this time. A thought came to mind that these are the same stars albeit in a different location than billions of early humans saw. They laughed, fought, and told stories around campfires under the same sky.
People press their hands against prints of movie stars on the Hollywood walk of fame to connect with their screen heroes. To be where they were just for a small moment. But the stars above our heads are the ultimate walk of fame with names of constellations passed from generation to generation. Their blinking light quietened the ever-present chatter in my head for that moment.
A fun fact: – the star colours are always present but with the naked eye they are seen as a white mist. A friend of mine sent me this photo of what the sky looks like with a long exposure camera shot. And now you can see it too – a glass half full.