Friday, September 24, 2010

Remembering the Future

My mind is nothing if not...uh..."free ranging," and it far-too-frequently just wanders off from the path I've chosen for it. Such is the case today.

When I lived in L.A. and was with my partner, Ray, whenever we'd go out where there were jostling mobs of people, Ray would grab the back of my belt so we wouldn't get separated. So I invite you to do the same, here, so you don't get lost trying to follow me.

I find myself--as I have since I was a child--fascinated with pondering the imponderable. It's fun, every now and then, to just let your mind take a tiny molehill of thought and turn it into a mountain of wonder. The fact is, of course, that no matter how much time or effort one puts into pondering questions which have no answers, absolutely nothing changes, and the universe is exactly the same when you stop pondering as it was before you started.

Being human, we are always seeking simplistic explanations for infinitely complex issues. The mystery of time, which rules my existence, is always a rich source of speculation, and the relationship between past, present, and future...between then and an endless source of wonder. The subject lends itself to endless analogies, similes, and metaphors in attempting to explain it. One I use frequently is of time being a speeding train, on which we all sit facing the rear. Each second of our life is a telephone pole flashing past the train's window, and we no sooner see a pole than it is gone. Of the past, the present, and the future, the only one of which we can be absolutely sure is the present, and it lasts less than a nanosecond's nanosecond. That every instant of our past was at one time our future is intriguing to contemplate.

And typical of my mind's workings, as I wrote the above (thus the need to hold on tight, for even when writing I'm aware of being "in the moment") another analogy suddenly presented itself to replace that of the speeding train, and I like this new one a lot: Time as a zipper, with Now as the fastener that links the past and the future. Unfortunately, the zipper only zips up, not down.

Time abounds in paradoxes. We've all seen movies and TV programs and read dumbed-down-for-the-layman articles detailing the flexibility of time; how it can move and bend and bow and turn into itself. But in the real life of humans, time is inflexible: it moves in only one direction and it does not stop or slow down at our command.

While so many of included...would like to travel back in time and change those things we so desperately wish we could change, logic dictates that were we to be able to do so, we would change everything from that moment on, and our right-this-minute Now would no longer be the Now from which we left to make the change. "That" Now would have been replaced by a totally unknown-to-us Now. Which sets off all sorts of interesting speculation on alternate universes, an utterly fascinating topic in itself.

Philosophical speculations, fun as they can be, are like an upended row of dominoes stretching to infinity. (Well what do you know? Another analogy.) Nudging the first one sets off an unending series of changes.

So while we cannot remember the future until it becomes the past, we can be free to contemplate it and do our best to manipulate our Now toward what we want our future memories to be.

Or, we can just sit back, not bother about contemplating anything at all and let time take its course and bring us whatever it may bring us. Given we really don't have that much of a choice, it's probably the most logical option.

You can let go now.

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