I was playing the piano tonight. Correction: I don’t really play the piano. I was playing at the piano. I may not be particularly good, but I do enjoy it.
As I was playing at the piano, I suddenly had a sensation and asked myself a simple question: how long does a moment last? It’s a pretty straight forward question. How long does a moment last?
Well, you can probably think of it in any number of different ways. You can think of the moment as just literally a moment: a second, or some fraction of time, that gives you just enough opportunity to be able to perceive what is happening. It’s a “moment in time,” so to speak. That is one way to look at it. I guess we could probably say it’s a linear way.
At the same time, when you’re asking yourself that question – how long is a moment – the answer might also be relative. Relative to what? Well, probably your age. A moment lasts a very different span of time to a 7 year old than a moment lasts in our final years of life.
I’m sure each one of us has experienced what my wife, friends and I talk about from time to time. Life has a tendency to accelerate the older we get. A moment is a whole lot faster today than it was when we were kids. When we were kids, a moment lasted forever. When we were five, one year was twenty percent of our lives and one moment a long fraction of that. But, when we are 70 or 80, or even 90, the denominator becomes so much bigger, which means that the result becomes fractionally smaller. Moments just simply speed by.
The irony, of course, is the faster they go by, the more we cherish them. When we are young, those moments are perceived as being so plentiful that they are almost limitless. We give them no great value. There are too many of them.
But as we get older, each moment becomes less and, in becoming less, we cherish them so much more.
How long does a moment last?
The answer might be staring us in the face.
Perhaps it lasts as long as we can stay fully present with it – however long that may be!