Cartoon by Isabella Bannerman
No, you’re not wrong. The days do seem longer, and it’s not because of the insane pace of life, or the fire hose of mindless electronic communication, or a lack of affordable espresso.
Blame it on the moon.
According to a study from astronomers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the moon is moving away from us at a rate of an inch-and-a half a year. And that’s causing our planet to rotate more slowly around its axis, so each day is a little longer.
How much? Well, in the good old days, 1.4 billion years ago, a day lasted around 18 hours. Or so a statistical method called astrochronology tells us. All the evidence is right there in the rock layers, if you know where to look. It has something to do with Milankovic cycles, if that helps clear things up for you. When used with radiometric dating and orbital precession, they can pin the date down to within 21,000 years, according to Wikipedia.
Even Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory would have trouble with astrochronology, and he’s a theoretical physicist at Caltech with an IQ of 187. As an undergraduate, he would have only taken a course in it if it were offered pass/fail.
Anyway, an 18-hour day actually sounds pretty attractive to me. Assuming I’d still need my eight hours of sleep, that would give me 10 whole hours to do whatever else needed to be done. That’s plenty. But I’d have to concentrate on the things that really mattered.
That excludes Facebook. An 18-hour day would send its stock down another 20%. Even Instagram isn’t instant enough in this new, time-compressed world.
Snapchat? That I’ll keep. It doesn’t take long to swap heads with someone.
Let’s see. What else wouldn’t I have time for?
Exercise, I suppose. Having no time used to be an excuse, now it’s a reality.
Work. As much as I love it, I’m living in an even more time-constrained world now. I’m going to have to compress the eight-hour day workday into an hour, two at the outside. I expect my pay to be the same, by the way. Why? I don’t want to make too many changes to my life all at once.
And with shorter days, the years would pass by faster. We could live to be 125, and my 401(k) would need all the help it can get.
Vacuuming, cooking, dishes, laundry. They are dead to me. Time is more precious, now. A clean house and home-cooked meals are “nice-to-haves,” not “need-to-haves.” I might as well give up bathing, while I’m at it. We’re talking efficiency here.
Will the day still seem rushed to me, after having made these time-saving sacrifices? I hope not. Having realized the brevity of a day, I will have learned to do only what really matters, and put the rest aside.
Why don’t I bring that same attitude to the current 24-hour day? Maybe then the day won’t seem so long, perhaps it is more a function of busyness than length. Makes sense, I just want to scroll through my newsfeed one last time to see how many likes I have. Goodbye HBO, I will never watch you again, for all eternity, or until Game of Thrones comes back, whichever comes first. Adios, soap, shaving, and Speed Stick.
One thing I’ll always have time for, no matter how short or long the day? Voting. There’s no way I’m giving that up. How about you?