Happy birthday sounds much better when you are ten than when you are one year past the mid-century mark, at least for me. I can remember when I was ten and playing on the abandoned steam shovel behind the coal region town of Kaska, Pennsylvania with my childhood friend Nemo as if it was yesterday. I can also remember going to Hershey Park in Stenny's father's car as he got his license first among our group of friends, we were 16. Those days seem to last a lot longer than the days that go by now and I believe that the proportion of time itself has something to do with it.
Proportion and imagery spoke volumes to us for millions of years before language was fashionable. Size produced some interesting survival strategies throughout the history of biological evolution by which the most recognizable is the selection of the physically bigger among prey species, effectively communicating, "Don't try to eat me, I'm too big." However, proportion has not only played an important role in evolution's grand scheme but has accompanied us individually throughout our lives on some hidden and personal levels.
Consider the first time that you ventured a visit to your elementary school after several years of enjoying alumni status. You immediately experienced an Alice in Wonderland sense of proportion and felt like you had taken the one pill that makes you larger. Many items have noticeably shrunk, desks, lockers, hallways, doors, toilets, classrooms, etc... as if the White Rabbit just played a bad joke on you. What makes this a particularly strange experience is that you don't remember these items being so small because they weren't - you were.
We can experience time in much the same proportional way. It feels as if it speeds up as we get older and most of us come to question the validity of Einstein's theory at some point in our lives. Consider the summer when you were nine or ten years old and how long that summer seemed in comparison to the same season experienced as an adult. The reality of this phenomenon is proportionally rooted in the relationship of these three months to your current life span. Simple math indicates that, for a ten year old, three months represents 1/40 of their lives while, for a thirty year old adult, three months comprises 1/120 of their lives. In this light, the effect of proportion makes the same three-month period seem to go much faster relative to the whole of one's life experiences.
The first artists were well aware of our emotional tie to proportion as reflected in several famous Venus figurines, which may also provide an example of some of the first images of love. Some figurines accentuate pregnancy and full female breasts in exaggerated proportions. I guess that pregnant women had a beautiful glow in pre-history as well. Proportion screams volumes of information to our instinctual level of intelligence under our individual rules of physical attraction when it comes to selecting a potential love partner; notably, that a well proportioned face and body is usually preferred.
Archeologists are quick to assign the emergence of conceptual intelligence and modern behavior and religious ceremonial value to these artifacts; however, they are careful not to apply the emotional state of love as a possible motivation for the tremendous caveman efforts. I would suggest just the opposite, that the artistic expressions of the time were directly tied to the newly evolved, ultimately complex emotion of love. Perhaps if archeologists spent less time digging up old bones and more time jumping new ones, they might notice the direct correlation between art and love that the rest of us archeologically challenged modern humans so easily recognize. Maybe universities should include some mandatory Meatloaf, "I would do anything for love," in their graduate level archeology curriculum.
Time represents a key line of connection along the intellectual continuum for couples in true love. True love may be the biggest time bandit of all. Arguably, our most valuable resource, how much time to spend together and how much apart, can be the source of anxiety for many couples. Charles Darwin said of time, "A man who dares to waste one hour of his life has not discovered the value of life," an inward focus of time. Charles Dickens said, "A day wasted on others is not wasted on one's self," an outward focus of time. What the two Charlies may not have known in their time is that true love really does stand the test of time, relatively speaking.
It is incredibly difficult to verbalize the time distortion phenomenon experienced by couples in a true love relationship. Every time I look for adequate words and or representations, I find the tether of math, physics, and biochemistry blocking my thoughts. Yet, every one of us who has even gone through the infatuation phase of a relationship can attest, quite accurately, to what happens to time; it speeds up when we are within reasonable proximity to our partner's stimuli and slows down when we are yearning for their sights, sounds, smells, and touch. If lovers are not accelerating, relative to the space-time they occupy, then why does time seemingly speed up? Why do most new couples look at the clock and it is suddenly 5 AM when it feels like only an hour has passed since they met for dinner at 7 PM the night before. True love couples seem to experience time in this way their whole lives.
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