GUY RAZ, HOST:
It's the TED Radio Hour from NPR. I'm Guy Raz. So sometime in 2011, Cesar Kuriyama felt stuck in time.
CESAR KURIYAMA: I was about to turn 30, and I was working in advertising, and I was working 100-hour work weeks all the time. You know, I literally had, like, no life. My life was work.
RAZ: Cesar was living in New York; he still does. But back then, he was living a life he had not planned. Eight years earlier, he had finished art school where he studied...
KURIYAMA: Computer animation primarily, but I dabbled in sculpture and painting and film. And I just wanted to get a little taste of everything.
RAZ: But then.
KURIYAMA: But then I started working in advertising, and...
RAZ: After about 10 years...
KURIYAMA: You know, I found it less and less creatively fulfilling. And so I kind of hit a breaking point where I needed to do something about it.
RAZ: It was a classic quarter-life crisis. And like any life crisis, it got Cesar thinking about better times.
KURIYAMA: And so I was thinking back on when I was 20.
RAZ: But there...
RAZ: ...He ran into another problem.
KURIYAMA: It's kind of, like, I know generally what - I know where I was in college. I was a sophomore, who my friends were, what my classes were. But on a day-to-day basis, I have absolutely no idea.
RAZ: And this is where the story really starts because Cesar thought with all of our modern technology, there had to be a better way to remember the past, to chronicle our own journey through time.
KURIYAMA: And so I thought one second.
RAZ: One second of video.
KURIYAMA: And I realized, wow, I have this high-definition camera in my pocket at all times now thanks to my iPhone. And coming from an animation background, I know that there's a lot that you can capture with just a second.
RAZ: So Cesar began recording short videos every day, and then he'd edit them together so that each day was represented by a single second of footage.
Do you have a video with you that you can just, like, look at and describe to us, like, just for, like, 15 or 20 seconds?
KURIYAMA: Sure. While I have my phone on, I might record the little NPR logo on the mic 'cause, you know, hey, you know.
RAZ: Since he first got this idea, Cesar Kuriyama has been recorded a second of his life virtually every day.
KURIYAMA: For over four years.
KURIYAMA: Four years and four months.
RAZ: That's four years of life in a 25-minute video.
KURIYAMA: All right, so I'm jumping over to June 1 of 2011.
KURIYAMA: This is right before I took off on a 95-day road trip around the U.S. and Canada.
KURIYAMA: OK, so I'm going to hit play. June 1 is the odometer on the car. I am in Philadelphia crashing with some friends. I am biking through Pennsylvania. I am camping near Pittsburgh. I am going to - playing - learning how to play Settlers of Catan, which is one of my - turned out to be one of my favorite games ever. I play it all the time. I'm in Chicago.
RAZ: For Cesar, watching his life flash by in a matter of seconds...
KURIYAMA: It's like this feeling.
RAZ: A feeling that you're looking at the answer to a question we all ask elves - where does the time go?
KURIYAMA: You know, a couple of weeks in, I realized, wow, like, because it's all playing out chronologically, I can fill in the gaps pretty easily. You know, like, the second that comes tomorrow and the second that came before it. It's like you feel time, you know. It's a very difficult thing to try to perceive.
...Near St. Louis.
It's the Fourth of July, and I am heading to Austin. I've always wanted to go to Austin. I'm in Colorado. I'm camping on sand dunes, and I'm jumping - I worked up the courage to jump into a lake. I'm in Yosemite...
RAZ: Since Cesar first started doing this about four years ago, he built this idea into an app. It allows anyone to stitch the recorded seconds into a seamless video and to experience something most of us never see.
KURIYAMA: You know, think about the person you were on your first day of high school and the person you were on your last day of high school. Think about the person you were on your first day of college and the person you were in your last day of college, you know. There's a massive growth and evolution that happens in that span of time, but it happens gradually so you don't really feel it or sense it. And so now, when I can revisit, you know, the past four years in 24 minutes, you know, my understanding of time becomes far more finite than I think it's ever been.
RAZ: And that raises a question - how can something so predictable - time - feel so different depending on where you are or who you are?
LAURA CARSTENSEN: An hour takes forever when you're five.
RAZ: Forever, remember, like, the summertime when you were a little kid, and it would just go on and on?
CARSTENSEN: Right, right.
RAZ: Is what we think of as time even real?
DAN GILBERT: No matter how small we cut the moment - a second, a half a second, a quarter of a second - the present is a psychological illusion.
RAZ: And if it is real, when did time begin?
SEAN CARROLL: Is time an absolutely crucial part of our best description of the universe, or is time something that emerges as approximation if we look at the universe in a right way?
RAZ: This episode, those questions and ideas about shifting time.
Cesar Kuriyama, by the way, quit advertising to work full-time on his one-second-a-day app.
KURIYAMA: Yeah, it takes up all my time (laughter).
RAZ: Which I've used myself.
So there's my two-year-old potty training, birthday party, swinging...
Find out more about it and see Cesar's TED Talk at ted.com.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.