The Eternal Present

In  a novel I read recently (Children of God, by Mary Doria Russell), I came across this statement by one of the characters:  “live in the eternal present–triumph over time”.  It made me stop reading and think again about time.  I have, in the past, commented that by living in the present moment, there is no past and no future (at least I think I have made that comment).  But it never occurred to me that such an eternal present can be thought of as a triumph over time itself.

It does raise a question:  do we really want to triumph over time?  Without a future to consider, would there be a need for imagination?  Without a past to consider, would there be a need for reconciliation?  Truly, time would be an unnecessary concept if we all simply lived in the now–but we give up ourselves by so doing.  With no past, there is no memory.  With no memory, how do we know who we are (or is that even important)?  I think life would be as nothing in that eternal present, however easy it might seem to slip into it and not be concerned about anything but now.

Definitely it is “time” to reconsider time.  Eternally.


Time, Re-bottled

Thinking again about time.  And memories.  I know the two are linked (see Time, in a Bottle), and it seems time to revisit that link.  Start with the idea that there is no Time.  None.  Then, who am I?  Where am I?  Am I in a when?  If so, how are whens formed?  My theory:  whens are time.  And they are created by my remembering something that happened to me.  Remember enough whens, and you have my time.

Time, then, is personal.  Each of us remembers something, creating a when and putting it in a bottle.  Stack those bottles and you have your time.  My time is not your time, not at all.  But, there may be memories of shared whens, and it might feel like we share time too.  But all we share is one bottle, one memory, when our personal times came together.  Even though there may be more than that one bottle, more whens in which we shared a moment and created a memory, still, my time is mine and yours is yours.

There may be whens  we would like to share with another person.  To create such a plan requires some common construct of “time”, so we can say, “meet me at the corner tomorrow at ten”.  We have to have a shared idea of what “ten” is for that to work.  So, we humans have constructed an elaborate structure that we have agreed to use so that we can create shared memories.  These can then be bottled and so become personal time.

This theory may explain why time seems to slow down and speed up.  The more bottles of memory I save, the slower my time.  We can choose what we want to remember, and that choice can be made at any point in my personal time–immediately and forever, or forgotten until remembered in some future when.

The important thing is that my whens are mine.  Time is personal.  But I can choose to sometimes place my time within that superstructure that allows us to share a when and hence a memory.

And no, I have not been drinking.

It Doesn’t Care

Oh my.  I was sort of watching the Charlie Rose show as I worked a crossword puzzle a couple of weeks ago.  Charlie was interviewing Danny Boyle (Director), who said “Time doesn’t care about you.”  Oh, wow!  For someone like me, who cares a whole bunch about time, that statement was a shock-and-awer, a wake-up call, a slap in the face. When I came back to earth and had picked up my dropped newspaper crossword, sopped up the spilled water, and calmed the poor cat (who had been snoring next to me on the couch), I turned off the TV’s sound and gave the matter a bit of thought.

As it happened, the more I thought about it, rather than just reacting to it, the greater my realization that what Mr. Boyle said was quite true, a description of reality.  Time passes, and as it goes by, it spares not a glance at me and my continuously sagging skin and gradually (hopefully) declining mental capacities.  Time just keeps going, and it doesn’t care if I am concerned that it is moving backwards instead of forwards, or at a faster or a slower pace.  I could say that time is focused entirely on its path and no action of mine is going to move it away from that path.  Of course, that is not the same thing as saying that time doesn’t care, but in the end, the distinction does not matter.

The question then is, WHY doesn’t time care?  My response is:  I haven’t a clue, and as a matter of fact, I really don’t care.  I will continue to care about time, because caring about time is something that I enjoy.  No need to care back.  As we said back in the when, “peace and love”, or “live long and prosper”.  Your choice, time permitting.

Time Spent.

Time again.  Can’t seem to get past it.

Slept most of the day, marched for a couple of hours.  The march went on for a seemingly long time (but wasn’t, really) and was most enjoyable, all in pink.  Sleep lasted a minute or so, I am quite sure, between falling and waking.  But the clock said a few hours had passed unnoticed even in my dreams.

So, I brushed the cat.  And enjoyed the moment again and again and yet again.

Muse to Amuse

So, spent part of today sitting by the window watching snow come down onto what was already a white landscape, musing.  It turned out to be a very nice relaxing interlude in an otherwise doing-things-because-they-must-be-done sort of day.  Tax season begins on January 23, and I need to be ready to prepare returns, so what was necessary today and will continue to be necessary for the next few is studying for certification exams so I can work as a volunteer tax preparer again. Interesting occasionally but not a whole lot of fun and certainly not amusing.

But, as the snow fell and I visually measured its depth by how low the cedar branches were hanging, I found myself amused (were you aware that one definition of “amuse” is “to cause time to pass agreeably?).  I contemplated the way the cedar branches inched lower as they became whiter, as opposed to the way the snow accumulated on the dogwood branches without causing the branches to change position.  Perhaps nature was trying to communicate a lesson to me?  There are ways, and then there are other ways, to carry a load.  Loads themselves may be wonderful, even light, not a burden.  When I went out and tapped with my long pole on the branches, the snow fell on me and the branches swung upward in joy and I laughed to feel the burden fall over me and to the ground.

I sometimes think that the time I pass musing is wasted, a frill that I should not admit to anyone for fear of being thought lazy.  But as time does pass, perhaps causing it to pass agreeably is a very good thing.

Spaced out time

So I have just (tried to) read an article in the January 2017 issue of Scientific American about spacetime.  I have to admit that I did not understand much of it at all, but I did get the impression that the physics people are all excited about a new way of thinking about a relationship between space and time that either changes or builds upon Einstein’s general theory of relativity and may or may not help our understanding of how (or maybe whether) spacetime emerges.  What intrigued me in the article was a simple statement that the new ideas might result in our being able to measure time in wormholes.

Now I admit that I never knew that we could NOT measure time in wormholes, but of course that is really the whole point of a wormhole anyway, is it not?  A way to move from one part of space to another without wasting any time at all is to go through a wormhole (or so say many of the sci-fi books that I have read).  So I guess I always sort of thought that wormholes are things that are outside of time, but it never really hit me what that meant.  Now, it turns out that physicists have thought for quite some time that space and time are different (or separate–I did mention that I did not understand what was being said), but the new thinking is (I think) seeing the two as not so separate after all.

I don’t mean to confuse things, although I am confusing things.  But what I want to know is how do I create my own little wormhole?  And having done so, how then do I regulate the time within it?  The possibility of measuring wormhole time leads me to think that wormhole time can pass at different speeds (see previous post about passing time), so now I think maybe I could entangle a few wormholes and voila–get time to pass at different speeds at the same time.

Who knew that physics could be so fun?


Passing Time

So since we cannot stop time and we also cannot make time move fast and slow at the same time, I have found ways to pass time.  The discovery of these ways is especially important when the temperature outside is below zero and the news of the world is depressing and the book I began isn’t really wonderful.  So yes, I know there are any number of ways to pass time, but only a few of those bring real contentment.

The temperatures are very low, although the sun shines occasionally.  I wander the house wondering what to do to keep time moving right along.  Which of my many time resorts shall I choose?  Well.  As it happens, I recently mentioned chocolate chip cookies, and it became impossible to ignore the time-passing potential of such lovelies.

I had made some snowball cookies a little while ago, but they did not last long.  Some ghosts of the past seem to know when those are available, because as soon as I turn my back, they disappear.  Those same ghosts seem to add inches to my waistline as they pass through.  But today, after I scraped the snow from the deck (more snow expected, want to be sure the deck does not collapse under the weight), that chocolate chip pecan cookie recipe that I happened to have discovered not so long ago just called to me (I am calling you–oo-oo-oooo, oo, oo, oo–remember that song?).  So today I baked up a batch.

Oh dear.  Not bad.  Almost makes me want to start baking all those dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies I used to make and take back when.  I may have to do another batch of the snowballs, though, just because time has slowed a bit (good in some ways, but at the moment the cat is in a slow time drift too, so I can speed up the rest of time a bit) and I feel the need for action.  But there is always the Amish cinnamon bread to consider.

So time passes.