Where Does The Time Go?

By Nomadic Matt | Published December 2nd, 2009

a moving trainIt’s amazing how travel changes your perception of time. I only left Europe 3 weeks ago but it already feels like three years ago. And that summer back in America feels like a lifetime ago. I remember talking to one of my friends last month and remarking how that even though we were just in Spain a month ago, I felt like I hadn’t seen him in years.

I often wonder why travel severely alters my perception of time. Weeks feel like months and months feel like years. I think that when you are racing around every day, you do so much that it just piles up and your mind pushes events further and further down. You feel like things were so long ago because you do so much since that last memory. That’s about the only explanation I can think of. 2009 is almost gone and yet despite Europe feeling like ages ago, my life in Taiwan earlier in the year feels like it was just yesterday.

Maybe it is only the short term memories that seem like long ago and, once the mind sorts everything out, it all feels normal again.

What does this have to do with travel? Absolutely nothing. I’m just thinking about how much has happened in 2009, how quickly it has gone by, and how, paradoxically, the last few months have felt like ages ago. I’m thinking about this because tomorrow afternoon I fly to New Zealand after spending three weeks at home in Bangkok.

These weeks went by too quickly. I had high hopes for my time here. I planned to do a lot of work, sightsee, and catch up with friends. Now I find that my time has run out on me before I had enough of it to do any of those things. It’s not for lack of trying- I don’t think I’ve stopped moving since I got off the plane. Yet despite my best intentions, time flew away from me and I feel as though I haven’t accomplished anything- I just spun my wheels.

Though I wish I had more time here in Bangkok, I’m really looking forward to going to New Zealand. The photos in my guidebook look amazing and the only bad thing I’ve ever heard about the country is that it has too many sheep. And if that is the worst of it, I think New Zealand won’t be too bad. One chapter is closing and another is beginning but time still goes by too quick. It may feel like ages but I only wish it took ages.

comments 13 Comments

living abroad and going back home (Brazil) to visit, made me realize that the more you experience, the more you realize time goes by quickly. Whenever I went home and talked to friends who were living in the same place, working the same job, doing the same things – I felt time had stopped. Everything seemed the same. Then I recollected my memories of places I had been, people I had met, and realized time was to ephemeral for everything I still wanted to do.
Have fun in NZ!!! :)

NomadicMatt

Ya know, that’s exactly what I think too.

Memory is a bit of an untrustworthy thing. It can change depending on your current perception of the event or time period and everything you do after skews it.

I guess the thing to do is to stop and really appreciate the moment of travel when you’re doing it.

I often reminisce about how much time we spend anticipating and then remembering the travel experience and how much less time we spend actually doing the traveling. The numbers couldn’t be more different.

Thanks for the post, I like to stop and think like this every once in a while.

NomadicMatt

We’re philosophers in crime!

Matt,
Maybe you need to add another week or two to your visits. When sightseeing and visiting friends is put into one agenda the time does slip away. Syncronizing Swatches, organizing Outlook calendars, and weaving whimsical sights can become daunting, especially when you want to channel chill time into the mix. No fret though, man, now you know and knowing is half the battle right? Enjoy the memories as you see them no matter how close or far away they seem and enjoy abroad as much as you can for those of us that truly are crunched in cubicles for days on ends. happy travels!

When you’re a kid every day seems like an eternity. This was true through most of my younger years but now is different, times goes quick. I worry that when I get to the end of my life, it’ll feel as if it’s all gone by in the last two weeks.

NomadicMatt

Youth is wasted on the young.

As Harvey Mackay wrote: “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it you can never get it back.”

You hit the nail right on the head here. I always feel like it goes by fast, way too fast. I think that’s just the penalty for really living life and it’s not really that bad. When you aren’t doing anything and just sitting around you typically feel bored and time goes by so slow. When you’re doing what you love and really living & loving life then it goes by all too quickly.

jforestphotos

I’m very jealous, I wish I was having the experiences you are right now! My latest trip abroad, a short 2.5 week trip to Italy was back in April. It seems ages and ages ago. I remember when I took my 2 month backpacking trip around Europe, I fit so much into every day. I probably overdid it because I was overzealous, but that was still the best trip of my life. I want more like it! Thanks for being such an inspiration!

I concur. The same happens to me all the time. Although those weeks I set aside here and there to hang out at Starbucks and do work tend to drag along very slowly… although that doesn’t mean I get any more work done, unfortunately!

Have fun in NZ. Check out Help Exchange, a setup similar to WWOOFing except it’s not just for organic farms. There are some pretty cool people and opportunities on their NZ listing.

Charlene

Are you still in New Zealand? If you’re in Christchurch, drop me a line! Would love to catch up with you over coffee!!!

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