Dealing with the Time Compression Warp Factor

David Atwood Points of the Compass
Posted 7/5/13

This past weekend, I attended my oldest son’s, third child’s graduation from his residency program. He is now a fully-fledged doctor, trained to go out and change the world. He is now the leader, even the teacher. At moments like this, with …

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Dealing with the Time Compression Warp Factor


This past weekend, I attended my oldest son’s, third child’s graduation from his residency program. He is now a fully-fledged doctor, trained to go out and change the world. He is now the leader, even the teacher. At moments like this, with family and friends gathered around, and my having reached 65 only 16 days previous, I grow reflective about my allotted time, what I have done with it, and what I will do with the rest. It all came crashing in on me, my personal black hole.

I first heard the term “time compression warp factor” used by a fighter pilot who explained it as flying so fast in a limited space that when you launch your missiles, you have flown ahead of them, they activate, and you become the target. I do not know if it is a real thing, but it sounds cool. The term also has roots in Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. I am not able to explain that concept either, or get past the first chapter of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, but I do have my own Time Compression Warp Factor theory that I can explain.

It is, as you get older, time compresses in on itself with interesting phenomena. The calendar says your birthday is today, but you swear the last one was yesterday. That it is June, but Christmas was just last week. The grass is a foot high, and you wonder that it could grow like that overnight. Children and grandchildren who were toddlers in the morning are teenagers in the afternoon. There are now 50 seconds to a minute, a like number of minutes for an hour, 20 hours to the day, five days to the week, three weeks to the month, 10 months to a year, and years are now bundled into seven to the decade, but are what a week used to be. Time is compressed.

We have all heard, if not used, terms such as “Time flies” or “They grow up so fast” or “I need a 25-hour day” and my personal favorite, “Where does all the time go?” I will try to answer by example.

When I was pre-teen, I couldn’t wait for the teen years and all their coolness. When I lived long enough to be a teen, I yearned for the independence of young adult hood. At 19, I was immortal. Time stretched out for me and appeared endless. That is the way it is with immortals.

About this time, we immortals have someone near us who dies, proving the immortal thing to be bogus. For me, it was other 19-year-old immortals in combat. We realized that there was an end, and it gave life a new perspective. We did not have an unlimited amount of time, but observation told us that there were people out there who were old, that it took a long time to get that way, and we would at least achieve that.

Time marched on and us with it. In any marching group, unless someone is calling cadence, the steps continue to be rhythmic, but become faster, and faster, until we are all out of step and aren’t marching anymore, but running toward what we do not know, but we’re going to get there quick.

That is how life is, and that is the Time Compression Warp Factor. When we are young, time stretches out to infinity. There is plenty of time for family, career, civic duty, church, etc., but somewhere along the way, our plans get derailed, our bucket list doesn’t get any shorter and when we’re through with the things we have to do, the things we want to do are still undone.

We wake up some time between 50 and 60, and realize, “Yeah, I’m mortal, and time is running out. I don’t have an unlimited supply of this stuff. How am I going to spend the rest of it?”

We are also looking around and wondering where did it all go? Einstein is credited with proposing that time was invented for man so that all things do not happen at once. We are beginning see that as a possibility. All things are squeezing together into the same moment, and we feel we have to squeeze a whole lot of living into what time is left. When this happens, the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, seasons, decades all seem to run together and bump into each other creating the Time Compression Warp Factor. The devices we use to measure these amounts of time say that they are the same, but a lifetime of living tells us that they are not. We are now flying so fast that we are the target.

Time Compression Warp Factor, it is a real thing; coming soon to a life near you.

David Wilson Atwood is a local writer whose human-interest columns offer a unique perspective. He may be contacted, and his other works viewed at:, or