Thursday, November 06, 2014

Remembering the Future

My mind is nothing if not...uh..."untethered," 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. While it is admittedly rather pointless, 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 we put into pondering questions which have no answers, absolutely nothing changes, and the universe is exactly the same when we stop pondering as it was before we started.

Being human, we are always seeking simplistic answers for infinitely complex questions. 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 ride facing backward. We catch each second of our life as if it were a telephone pole flashing past the train's window, and we no sooner see it than it is gone. The present lasts less than a nanosecond's nanosecond, and “Now” turns future to past. 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 (still holding on?) another analogy suddenly presented itself to replace that of the speeding train: Time as a zipper, with “Now” being the fastener that joins past and 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 able to do so, the “Now” from which we began our journey back in time would cease to exist, replaced by a new series of “Nows.” Which sets off all sorts of interesting speculation on alternate universes, an utterly fascinating topic in itself. 

And, when all is said and done, if you will allow me one more analogy, all this speculation, fun as it maybe, is not unlike being in a hamster cage in which no matter how fast our minds run, it really gets us nowhere.

So while we cannot know 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 of my belt now.

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday and Thursday. Please take a moment to visit his website ( and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (, which is also available as an audiobook (

1 comment:

Kage Alan said...

I saw a film recently (you will perhaps scoff at the title, so I won't mention it) where a Catholic priest is forced to choose several townspeople to be killed by German soldiers, otherwise all risk being murdered. The act haunted him all his life to the point where he quit the church.

Flash forward several years and he confronts a demon who tries to convince him God never cared and nothing he did would have changed the outcome. The priest finds himself back in time at that very situation, which is does everything as he feels he should have done. The result finds them all being killed.

It's interesting this mystery, time. It makes me wonder if the past is fluid or if it's best looked at through a window.