Editor’s Column – The Longest Year

Jeff Fein

The Class of 2007 and my great uncle Bill agree: time is going by awfully fast. Over Winter Break, Uncle Bill and I had a man-to-man talk at a family gathering. He told me to watch out, because life just flies by. “It sneaks up on you,” he said through a mouthful of doughnut. “One day you’re young, the next day you wake up and you’ve got kids and the next day-boom! (doughnut powder went flying)-you wake up and you’re an old man.”

When I got back to Colgate, Uncle Bill’s take on time was in the air. On the first day of last week’s Real World program, seniors’ initial conversations were tinged with consternation. The second question out of many mouths, right after “Hey, what’s up?” was “Can you believe this is our last semester?”

Uncle Bill’s warning and my peers’ fretting had me worried. I came down with a bad case of College Senioritis, a terrible cousin of the pleasant high school strain. “Maybe time is going faster,” I thought to myself. “Maybe I will wake up tomorrow with kids and bills, and the next day with wrinkles and a closet full of adult diapers.” I looked at a clock. The second hand seemed to be in a mad dash towards the next minute.

A week later, I am fully recovered. I went Mythbusters on this whole time flies phenomenon, and I am here to reassure you, fellow seniors, that everything is gravy. Not only is time not speeding up, it’s actually slowing down.

The first thing I did was start keeping a journal in hopes that my daily entries would prove just how much happens every day. A lot happens.

On Saturday, the second day of Real World, for instance, I decided to be an environmental lawyer, then a school administrator, then a politician and then a playwrite, all within a matter of hours. Then I took a nap. Then I met up with some good friends I hadn’t seen in over a month. That night, I was introduced to the drink “Captain Carmonstaple” at Nichols-delicious and strong. And that was just Saturday! According to my journal, every day since has been just as stuffed, so much so that my faith in the regularity of second hand was restored.

But just to make sure, I consulted the physics department. Professor Mary Parks conceded that “time flies when you’re having fun,” but assured me that “the time shift can’t be explained by a relativistic correction caused by moving at speeds approaching the speed of light” since, presumably, no senior has moved faster than the speed of plane.

Professor Joe Amato did me one better. He told me “the days are actually getting longer.” Amato explained that the Earth and Moon move about 20 centimeters away from each other every year. And since “the Earth’s rotation rate must decrease as the Moon’s distance increases, a consequence of the law of conservation of angular momentum,” our days are about seven hours longer than they were 300 million years ago.

“I suspect that 300 million years ago, classes were correspondingly shorter, too,” Amato said, “maybe only 35 minutes long instead of 50 minutes. Those were the good old days.”

What a relief. The seconds of our last semester are ticking away in an unwanted countdown to graduation. This is unavoidable. Tick. There’s one right there. Tick. There goes another. We just had our last first weekend back and our last first day of classes. Tonight, we will go to our last Colgate-Cornell hockey game.

But take heart. The myth is busted. Our final year at Colgate will be longer than that of any of the 181 senior classes that came before us. There are almost four months until graduation, and they’re going to be the longest four months in the history of the world.

If you need proof that time is slow and steady, write down the important things that happen each day this semester. Or take lots of pictures. Either way, live it up. Start by cheering extra loud tonight.

Tick.