The Illusion of Time

How often have you reflected on the passing time and wondered where the days, weeks, months, and even years have gone? For some of the younger readers, perhaps time seems to be dragging on. For me and countless others of you, time goes by so fast, it seems crazy that it is October, 2016, already!

One interesting thing about time is that a past event may seem like a long time past or just as easily, something that happened only a short time ago. To me, the most interesting thing about time is when an event from the past seems to have happened, both a long time ago as well as quite recently. It surely does not seem like more than a year ago that I wrote my last post, and yet it also seems like so very long ago that I was shaken by what transpired around that time. Yes, there are many things that on the one hand can seem like they happened a long time ago, and that same event can seem like it happened just yesterday. How can that be? Is time truly so elusive?quo_mlkjr

In some circles of philosophy, the dimension of time is considered a “human construct” that does not exist in reality. We think of time as linear, chronological, with a past, a present, and a future. But what if we think of it in that way just so that we can understand it? What if time really doesn’t exist in that way and that everything is happening at the same time? How would that change the way we saw the world and lived our lives? What if there really was no past and no future, and everything only happens in what must be the present. If, regardless of what happened in what we think of as our “past,” and if we couldn’t really create our “future,” then wouldn’t everything really just be in the present, the now?

Does that mean it doesn’t really matter what you do in any given moment because whatever you do now only matters now and that nothing you have done can every come back to haunt you? Would that really change how you would behave? Would you be more careless and carefree? Would you risk ruining this moment because it could never come back to ruin a future moment? Would you not be as determined to make the most of this moment because it wouldn’t necessarily benefit a future moment? Do you only make the most of any given moment because you believe it will make a difference in a future moment? Is this quo_edickinsonall too much to think about?

When we no longer consider the past and live only in and for the present moment, it can actually make things much simpler and our decisions more powerful and meaningful. When each decision, each and every action we take, has the power of defining each and every moment, it takes on a brand new meaning. The only moment that matters, every moment that matters, is the very moment that exists, now. No matter what you do from this moment forward, realize that your every action, every thought, every decision you make will define that very moment. See how powerful you are? How cool is that?

Controlling the Flow of Life

This title may seem oxymoronic, and perhaps it is, but it might also provoke the question, “Do we, or can we control the flow of life?” Or we might ask, “Do we want to control the flow of life?” And then, if we can and do, “Is there a flow of life?”

I don’t intend for this to be a, “If you put your foot in a stream, is it the same stream” kind of blog post, but I was thinking about how I have gotten fairly adept at allowing things that happen to just be what they are – to not be upset by them and to learn the lesson they were there to teach me. I have gotten good at not taking things personally, generally, which is a wonderful lesson for all of us to learn. Most importantly, I have learned to be okay with not having to be “in control” of everything that happens. This is especially useful since we are not in control of everything. At the same time, it is important to recognize that about which we do have control. One of my favorite quotes is the Serenity Prayer, “God Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” (Reinhold Niebuhr) If you have been here before, you know that this quote has guided me for years, and it continues to be one of the most influential in my life.

In terms of the “Flow of Life,” I believe it is important for us to learn how to simply, “Be” in that flow. When we spend time in the past, we are unable to move forward. If we spend too much time in the future, we miss out on all the wonder that is happening in our lives, right now. We do want to be clear about what our dreams and goals are, but the “what-if” game can be harmful when it is based on worry and fear. Think of FEAR as an acronym meaning, “False Evidence Appearing Real” and worrying as, “praying for something you don’t want.” How helpful are either to creating the life that you want?

So, if we don’t have control over everything that happens and we are well served by going along with the flow, what do we have control over? We have control over our actions, our beliefs, and our responses to things that happen “to us.” You have likely heard the expression, “It isn’t what happens to us but how we deal with what happens to us that defines our success.” What if everything that happened in your life was there to teach you something of value, something for your benefit? What if you knew that no matter how awful something seemed at the time, the result was going to be great? I believe that when we see our lives as splendid, magical adventures that teach us how to be joyful and loving, our lives will prove us to be right. How cool is that?

All the best,