When my friends and I turned thirty, our reactions varied–some were sad, some indifferent. But we all shared one feeling: It seemed we had turned twenty just yesterday.
Everyone experiences this feeling. The college graduate feels like he was entering first grade yesterday. The octogenarian mourning the loss of his spouse feels like he was marrying his bride just a few days ago. We intuitively collapse time into a few days, extinguishing the distinction between days, months, and years.
Every person experiences this because the soul is a spiritual creature with an existence outside the worldly order, and therefore with an existence outside of time. Metaphysically speaking, the soul exists in eviternity, a measure which, according to Thomas Aquinas, is analogous eternity. And just as “in eternity there is no present, past, nor future, since it is a simultaneous whole,” eviternity's “measure does not contain before and after.” It, too, is a simultaneous whole.
Because the soul exists in a duration whose measure does not contain before and after, we intuitively tend to crush distinctions in time. Though our rational faculty knows distinctions in time, our spirituality overlooks them, and, in a sense, overrides our reason.
The resulting feeling that years ago were just yesterday highlights the weakness of existing in time. It points to the passing of time and to our impending departure from that which time measures. The feeling is understandably sobering and saddening.
But the feeling ought also to point to greater things. When we feel that years ago were just yesterday, our feelings are merely submitting to the soul's greatest functioning–that of a spiritual agent, an agent that can, and is supposed to, communicate with the divine. And communicate with it in eternity.