Sunday, June 26, 2011
And so “to be continued” becomes a reality as I sit outside at Spiderhouse, half in the shade, with an Iced Toddy and a strong breeze. So what’s this summer blogging project about anyway? I forget when I came up with the idea, but it was sometime this week, very likely after Wednesday’s episode of “Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman”. If you didn’t watch last season or haven’t watched this season at all, you’re missing one of the most interesting programs about physics I’ve ever seen. The first season mainly dealt with the kinds of physics questions we’re generally used to hearing about: black holes, worm holes, time travel, quantum mechanics, etc. This season, having gotten the basics out of the way, is delving into areas one might more readily attribute to “meta” physics or even philosophy. We’ve already had an episode about the possibility of “life” after death and the nature of time. In fact it was the episode about the nature of time that was partially the impetus for this very project.
There’s an interesting thing I learned about people and the perception of the passage of time. The older we get, the quicker we perceive the passage of time. There’s some formula or other that describes it in detail, but the gist of it is that at 10 years of age you experience time precisely as we measure it, one second at a time. By your 60’s you perceive everything twice as fast. This is not to say that you see the world around you moving any faster, but at the end of any given day a 60 year old will “feel” as if the day went by twice as fast as the 10 year old. This sensation (it would seem) comes from the way the brain stores information. To boil it down to simple terms: when we do something new, the brain catalogues as much of that experience as possible, when we do something we’ve done before, it’s not a vigilant. This is why when people get into car crashes they remember the event as if it were in slow motion and in excruciating detail. As a new (and in this case traumatic) experience, the brain has taken detailed notes on everything going on. It’s like if you film a movie in 60 frames per second and play it back in 30. It runs slow because they was more information captured to begin with. When the brain receives sensory information based on things that are routine or that is has prior experience with, it doesn’t take as much note of what’s going on.
Now maybe I’m reading this all the wrong way, but that really struck me as “if you want to live longer (or at least feel like you are) then you need to constantly be doing new things”. Now since I’ve always had as a life goal to live forever, I figured it might be a good start to go out and do something new as a regular experience and while doing so, get some writing done. Now, I’ve done plenty of new things since coming to Austin nearly 2 years ago and there are always new places to go and things to do, but I am nothing if not a creature of habit and I tend to fall into routines very easily. My weekend mornings are a perfect example. On Saturdays I’m almost always at the Waterloo Icehouse for breakfast and on Sundays I’ll be at Epoch Coffee with a bagel and a double mocha, reading the Austin Chronicle. I don’t have any problem with this, in fact the routine exists primarily because I enjoy going to these places, but there’s more out there and in the interest of prolonging my life, I think I owe it to myself to get out there and experience it, which brings us to the summer project.
I’ve decided that every weekend this summer I’m going to try to find a new place to get a cup of coffee and write a blog post. It’s not incredibly ambitious, I know, but for me it means at least going to someplace new on a fairly regular basis and writing, which I don’t do nearly enough of. I have chosen to inaugurate this project here at Spiderhouse, technically not someplace new for me, but I haven’t been here in a while and certainly not since school let out, meaning it’s much less crowded. And did I mention the breeze? After yesterday’s weather nonsense, it’s nice to be out enjoying the heat without the exaggerated humidity. As a start to a project like this, it’s as good a place as any. And so it goes.