Saturday, March 3, 2012

Past and Future Present

Greetings from the past (which doesn't exist)

Physics tells us that there is no discernible difference between past and future. The same rules apply whether you're looking forward or back. But it's impossible to make cognitive sense out of that, at least for me. Even if I was brilliant or a physicist, and I'm neither, I know I can't alter what has happened, not in the way I believe I can alter what will happen. And even that isn't guaranteed. Einstein called the distinction between past, present and future, a "stubbornly persistent illusion." I think he was referring to death.

Nope, I cannot explain to you, with any degree of authority, anything about the Special Theory of Relativity or the Simple Theory of Everything or strings or particles or time. Blah. It all gets shredded in the tines of the planetary gearing that I imagine exists in my head and functions as a brain.

If it weren't for entropy, maybe the illusion wouldn't persist, but lucky for us, our little cells knit together for a few years, and then they unravel. For a long time, we're too dull or dimwitted to get how brilliant and amazing just being alive is, and by the time we stop being so stupid (if we ever stop being so stupid), we're often too caught up in the business of keeping ourselves comfortably alive to actually just marvel at what it is.

In a couple of months, I'll be in a Jeep traveling from Aiken to Oakland. I already am. I already did. Half a decade ago, I was somewhere in time crying my little eyes out coming down a mountain in Colorado, coming down a mountain in Arizona, coming down a mountain in California. You'll soon learn, I really like mountains--when I'm not on them, in a moving car, on a road. A decade ago, I was chasing a thief through a train traveling through Italy, or I was  lost just outside Rome. But I still am, aren't I, and tomorrow I will be, too, and yesterday, then.

That's the great thing about telling stories. You get to understanding the physics of time, how we're just moving through it or it through us. I like thinking about this story, about traveling through a physical space with my best friend, and the ghost of a rabbit, who isn't a ghost, just another being that exists somewhere else in time. Anyone who has been on the road for any extended period knows how easy it is, outside of our normal routines, for "things" to break down, for time and space to blur and blend like it should.

I'm looking forward to that feeling.


  1. So brilliant, I'm going to put a link to it on my blog. I'm glad I can say I know you--not only because of this.

  2. @Anna, thank you so much! I'm really glad I know you, too!


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