The Happiness Project

Have You Ever Experienced Split-Second-Aging?

Yesterday, I got my feeling of split-second-aging.

While I was riding on the subway, for no particular reason, I felt some odometer click over, and I became older. I felt it happen. I crossed some invisible border, and now some things seem closer and clearer and more important, and other things, further away.

I’ve had this feeling of unexpected split-second-aging before, and I’ve also failed to feel it, when I expected to feel it. The night I got married, for example, I remember saying to my husband of a few hours, “I thought I’d feel different, but I feel the same. Do you feel different?” He didn’t feel any different, either.

Having a baby, too. I felt a huge range of new emotions and concerns, but I didn’t feel any older or more mature. Same old me.

But I remember feeling split-second-aging when my husband had knee surgery. I was sitting in the waiting room with my mother-in-law and father-in-law, waiting for him to regain consciousness, when the doctor came in to give us the update. (Never have I felt such love for my father-in-law as when he said, nicely but sternly, “Doctor, we want to manage this situation for no pain .”) It wasn’t a dangerous operation, but suddenly I knew that I’d leave that hospital a lot older than I’d come in.

But sometimes split-second-aging feels good. Several years ago, my mother, sister, and I organized a surprise party for my father in my apartment, and the oversized flower arrangement made a big impression on my four-year-old. When a babysitter arrived to watch her while the party was going on, I overheard my daughter explain in a soft voice, “My mommy is having a flower party.”

Suddenly, I felt like the the omnipotent Mommy of my own childhood, or Mrs. Dalloway. I felt grown-up in a way I never had before – in a pleasing way.

The passage of time is one of the great currents of life that affect happiness. Split-second-aging isn’t a happy feeling or an unhappy feeling, but it is a weighty feeling.

Do you know what I’m talking about? Am I the only one who has experienced split-second- aging?

* I can’t get over how nice people are being about my forthcoming book – Karl over at the great blog Work Happy Now! wrote an incredibly generous post.

* Speaking of people being helpful and nice, if you’d like to volunteer to help me from time to time with The Happiness Project , you can sign up here . Super-Fans, THANKS again for all your help.