Day 357 of the Calendar Year

Changing times – “the times they are a changin.” Words made famous by Bob Dylan in his 1964 song and album. The times have been “a changing” ever since the first people discovered fire. The Romans conquered the known world. Then the barbarians overran the Roman Empire after which the dark ages came. This was followed by the reformation which was followed by the industrial revolution. Then the global information and computer age arrived. Times change so fast today, we buy one cell phone and it is obsolete when we get it home. Computers chips replace each other so rapidly; we cannot keep track of the numbers. Movies come and go in days and the top 40 songs last about 6 weeks.

Styles, fame, fortune, disasters and triumphs will last until you throw out today’s paper or as more likely, until you stop hearing about them on the web. When were times not changing? Are they really changing more rapidly today or is it just our myopic view of history? How could times not change? Isn’t that the very nature of time? It is a measurement of change. However, what if we did not measure it? What if we did not keep track of minutes, hours, days and years? Could anything change if we did not count the change? The obvious answer is yes. Seasons change, weather changes, we change. However, these changes are more constant. We cannot say the seasons change faster then they did 3000 years ago. Nor do we age any faster. If anything, our extra longevity should help to slow the world down for us. We have twice as long to live as they did during the Roman Empire.

Then why do we think things are changing so fast? Why does it feel like we can hardly keep up? Is it the pace of change or the number of events we now seem to have to deal with? Has the speed of change really increased? Perhaps we should have a measure for the speed of change. We measure speed of movement, why not a measure for the number of changes we are faced with daily? Instead of miles per hour, we could call it ACPD (Average Changes per Day). The daily news would report the number of changes per day along with the weather. “Today there was 4,072 changes in St. Paul. However, this was dwarfed by the changes in Tokyo which topped 1 million today.” We could keep an Index of Change like the stock market indexes. We could watch each week to see if the index was going up or down.

Of course, there would be some problems with measuring change. For instance, should each time a newborn baby say their first word be counted as a change? Is each new cell phone a change or simply a revision? Is the New Tide really new? What about changes in your life? Has your life changed very much? What were the most significant changes you have experienced? Do you think your life is going faster or slower? Why, what has changed for you? Do you wish things would slow down or speed up?

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