In our lives we function with the notion that time is a constant. Every passing minute can be measured in the same way, in the same unit and remains the same constant. Every one experiences the ephemeral nature of time in the same amount of experience. And as we have experienced the necessary amount of time, our time so to say is up!
Memory I imagine then is a function of time. As time passes by (Casablanca ref) so our memory grows – sometimes for some people with a constant relation and for others in other possible distinct patterns of memory formation based on what is ‘memorable’. However, the amount of memories in some relation and to some degree is necessarily related to the amount of time in constant units experienced by a human being.
How is it then that as we grow older and more time passes by our memory tends to – wait I think its important at this point to define memory in the way I am using it here. I suppose I would have to reach out to some kind of a formal definition for that, to ensure there is consistency and value in the ‘claims’ I will make. Regardless lets leave that for a later time and go ahead and suppose memory is defined as the remembrance of things past (Proust anyone) – that’s too vague though for our purpose here. So lets say…
Or isn’t experience a function of time too – is that a better route to take to explain whatever it is that I seem to be thinking of right now?
Okay before I lose my trail of thought lets jump to what I want to say quickly and then come back to building a case for it…doesn’t time in fact expand as it grows (or passes by). Do we experience time the same way when we are young as opposed to when more of it has passed by?
As a child I have few memories – that could be for many reasons of course. But time seemed to pass much quicker. Or maybe it is only in retrospect that I feel time passed quickly when in fact at the moment within it I felt that it was passing ‘normally’ or even too slow on some of those excruciatingly long and hot days in Karachi during the summer holidays when there was little to do but stare at the walls (in the absence of electricity and the internet).
Lets return to the theme of memory then – memory if it is indeed a function of time, most certainly tends to increase over time – I suppose until a certain point when senility sets in and we become vegetables. If we can only recall things in time (standard units of minutes and hours) through our memory, and if the number of things we can recall (within those units of time) and thus experience increases over time, would that imply that time in every human life in fact goes through a similar cycle as a human of starting small, expanding through adulthood ripe with experiences and memory and then decaying to a slow death? Diminishing marginal utility if you will? Well that of course assumes that there is a utility associated with time and that could be as erroneous as anything else I suppose.
If memory is a function of time and memory increases over time then does time expand over time? And if so then should we change how we measure time – given how we spend our time is related to the kind of human beings we are (engaging in selfish or altruistic behavior)? Should there be a higher weightage associated with every passing unit of time as we grow older and then should it diminish after a certain peak?
As I write this it occurs to me that in Islam in fact there is such a formula. God says that the worship of ones younger years is far more valuable than the worship of old age. That of course means that the ‘value of our time’ and thus possibly its passing relevance increases after an initial set off years – lets say after 12 years of age – and then time expands as they way in which we spend it becomes more meaningful to ourselves, our families, friends and holds more implication for those around us in our communities. And then once we go through a certain prime – lets say till 55 or 52 years of age – time’s value begins to decline. Our ambitions surrender to inevitable age related fatigue, sickness or death and our ability to accomplish a variety of tasks and their complexity diminishes. Alternatively, once we are at that age (52 or whatever) we are already on a set path and we no longer have the ability to change it significantly.
Then is the value of how we spend our time (and its units of experience) highly related to the quality and quantity of mental and/or physical effort we are able to produce? I realise now that all I have done here is to state the obvious – none the less the writing of it is a process of self-realization that I would have found difficult to achieve via any amount of reading of others written letters.