When we think about time, it is usually time in the immediate sense. We worry about waking up “on time,” when the next train is arriving, and how many more hours have to pass before it’s the weekend.
However, time as a concept is so much more vast than our watches and alarm clocks can capture. The effects that passing years can have on everyday objects is incredible, but it’s not necessarily something people stop to evaluate very often.
Below you will find 36 striking examples of just how much time can really change things. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll look at the world in an entirely different way! And who knows? Maybe it will be different!
1. Years of the wind blowing these plants against this fence had an effect that no one saw coming. The greenery continually being pushed back and forth scratched a beautiful pattern onto the wood itself. Who knew plants were so powerful?
2. When you’re a serious cook, keeping your knives sharp is crucial in order to make your job easy. That’s why chefs are so passionate about sharpening their knives. This knife has clearly served in a kitchen for years. It’s been sharpened so many times there is almost no blade left!
3. A stone wall might seem incredibly strong, but water is one of the planet’s most powerful substances. Just look at how years and years of trickling water made a deep impression upon this stone.
4. You wouldn’t think that sleeping every night would have such a wearing effect on your mattress. Still, given that you spend more than a third of your entire life in bed, it’s really not that surprising after all when this happens!
5. For 25 years, this Buddhist monk has prayed while standing in exactly the same place in his room every single day. While the wood that makes up his floor is sturdy enough, it’s no match for the passage of time! His feet have left quite an indelible mark.
6. In the years since it has been installed, this lamp post has cast a shadow onto the grass. When the sun hits the glass in just the right way, a powerful beam of light burns into the grass. As the sun moves across the sky, so does the beam, leaving a barren strip of dirt.
7. There is nothing quite like the smell of a stack of newly printed bills straight from the mint. However, it isn’t just the aroma that changes once money had been in circulation for a while. Compare these two stacks of money—one brand new and one headed for retirement—and see how the passage of time has added volume to the old, crumpled bills.
8. You don’t need to look at this table for very long before you realize that the pattern worn into its surface isn’t intentional. It is just the end of result of decades of people playing cards on its surface! It almost looks like they planned it. How cool is that?
9. When you see signs telling you to stay off the grass, they are often put there to keep you from helping to create a permanent path through the lawn like this one. Is it helpful? Yes—but it’s hard to deny that this pattern ended up being quite pretty anyway!
10. If you work in an office environment, chances are that you’ve spent your fair share of time parked in front of the copier. In all that time, did you ever notice the kind of long-term damage all that paper was causing the machine? Talk about a paper cut!
11. While this building might look like it has been through a terrible fire, the fact of the matter is that it’s just collected a ton of dust and grime over the years! Look at the beautiful stone hiding underneath all that dirt.
12. This coin was once as richly detailed as any other of its kind, but it looks like it became someone’s lucky coin. Years of being squeezed and touched has smoothed away the coin’s design, much like the crashing waves of the ocean smooth the edges of glass.
13. Metal floors like this certainly feel sturdy underfoot, but even they are not immune to the wearing effects wrought by the passage of time. This tourist noticed the damage and decided to stop and snap a striking picture. Isn’t it neat?
14. While the hook itself looks to be in great shape, the same can’t be said for the corroded bracket from which it hangs. Years of heavy pressure have caused a dip in the metal where the hook tugged and pulled for so long. It looks like it’s about to snap!
15. This speckled bathroom floor wasn’t exactly stylish to begin with. So maybe it’s a blessing that the speckles were the first thing to go when heavy foot traffic in and out of the bathroom began to affect the flooring. It’s like a clear path to the toilet!
16. In big cities, it can hard to find traces of what came before; so much is built and renovated that the original structures are lost to time forever. However, it’s nearly impossible to miss the shape of this building’s former neighbor! The builders actually reused the old bricks of the former house and created a striking masterpiece in the process.
17. This old piano doesn’t really show its age… until you look at the pedals, that is. Years of patient pupils stepping onto the right pedal have worn the thing to the point where it looks like there’s a hole right in the middle of it. Wow!
18. Check out this amazing side by-side-view! On the left is a brand-new door handle, and on the right is the same model—only this one has been used as the door into an elementary school classroom for more than four whole decades!
19. When this Pocahontas glass was fresh out of its packaging, it depicted some memorable characters from the animated film itself. However, the cup that has been in use since the movie was released looks more like an abstract work of art.
20. Now, you might not think that tetherball and art would ever be mentioned in the same sentence, but that’s only because you have never seen the pattern that this tetherball chain has made on this pole over the years. It’s kind of funky and cool-looking, huh?
21. This man spent his entire career driving a delivery truck. The right side of his face is relatively unlined for a man his age, but the left side—the side that faced his window and the sun’s rays—is considerably more weathered. Always wear sunscreen, people!
22. When this forest bridge was constructed, the builders added a top layer of wire mesh to help keep people from slipping and falling down on rainy days. They had no way of knowing that the mesh itself would wear out with the passage of time.
23. Do you ever look at telephone poles covered with fliers and wonder what the pole underneath it looks like? One curious person did, and even after digging through layers and layers of fliers, it looks like they won’t ever get to the bottom of it.
24. Subway poles are installed to help people keep their balance while riding the train. That means the poles naturally must be able to support a lot of weight. It’s not something you think about very often, but the cracks on the flooring here really put its important work into perspective.
25. The corner of this school hallway reveals just how many different layers of terribly ugly linoleum came before the latest one. It’s like cutting down a tree and counting its rings—only instead of a tree, it’s terrible retro-style flooring.
26. This leather bench in a government building shows just how rarely more than two people ever shared this space. While it was clearly designed with three separate seats, the wear and tear on the ends reveal that no one ever took that middle seat while the other two were occupied.
27. While years of welcoming guests has worn away the message on this mat, the sentiment remains. Still, it’s kind of interesting that people always seemed to wipe their feet on just one side of the mat, don’t you think?
28. Years of oxidization have left most parts of this statue a darker burnished color. However the parts that have been more frequently touched by people retain their natural luster. There sure was a whole lot of torso- and arm-grabbing going on, it looks like!
29. Standing in line at the bank waiting to speak to a teller can feel like it takes a lifetime. While you get to go home after your long wait, the same can’t be said for the floor! Just look at the footprints in the floor that show where everyone has stood and waited.
30. Marble might seem exceptionally tough, but there’s a reason that sculptors choose to use this material so often when carving their masterpieces. Over time, the weight of many people using these stairs left indentations that make the stone look like melting butter.
31. This second pair of stairs has seen even more traffic than the previous set. Look at just how treacherous the passage of time has made this stairwell. You wouldn’t want to walk down those in the dark of night or on a rainy day!
32. Coins, glorious coins! This display of pennies demonstrates just how much the passage of time can affect the properties of copper. It looks like a work of art, but it isn’t worth enough to even buy you a small latte at Starbucks.
33. Years and years of stirring coffee and other drinks have done more than smooth the porcelain bottom of this mug. It’s almost as if this coffee-drinker has their very own work of spiral art to admire once they’ve finished their last sips of java!
34. When one couple was redecorating their home, they pulled back a carpet and discovered the major difference between the exposed hardwood and the wood that had been safely protected by carpeting for years. Isn’t that crazy?
35. This man had been married for 50 years. He almost never took his wedding ring off, and it showed; just look at the permanent impression the ring made on his finger. It’s pretty sweet and romantic in its own way, don’t you think?
36. For years, a tree branch grew on the top of this wall with its base just brushing the surface. Decades of growing this way totally flattened out the bottom of the branch. It almost looks like someone did that on purpose when, in fact, it is just a byproduct of time!
You might not think about the effect that aging has on everything around you, but photographs like these make it impossible to ignore the amazing changes ordinary objects undergo.
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