Saturday, December 10, 2016


A recent  obituary in our local paper told of the life and death of one Happy Hieronimus who was born in 1930 and died of "terminal old age." Right away, the name "Happy Hieronimus" intrigued me, and as I read her obituary it became clear her name fit her personality. Quite a lady!

It was the phrase "terminal old age" that set my mind turning and churning. Of course, we're all "terminal." But, we don't think of our life that way, do we? 

David Eagleman, a neuroscientist and writer at Baylor College of Medicine, where he directs the Laboratory for Perception and Action and the Initiative on Neuroscience and Law, was quoted as follows:

“One of the seats of emotion and memory in the brain is the amygdala. When something threatens your life, this area seems to kick into overdrive, recording every last detail of the experience. 

The more detailed the memory, the longer the moment seems to last. This explains why we think that time speeds up when we grow older, why childhood summers seem to go on forever, while old age slips by while we’re dozing. 

The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.”

On a conscious level I don't think of "something [threatening my] life," but I certainly know I am not going to live forever. 

This assessment of Eagleman's answered several questions my friends and I (all around the same age) have often asked ourselves and each other. Well, maybe not "several questions" answered--maybe it simply explains the one we wonder about constantly: where has the time gone?? 

Spring passes and one remembers one's innocence.
Summer passes and one remembers one's exuberance.
Autumn passes and one remembers one's reverence.
Winter passes and one remembers one's perseverance.
~ Yoko Ono