This is the last post from me in the year 2020, or the first post in the year 2021; since we're now in some sense a true global village, there's no way for me to be sure in which year these words will find you, dear reader. Time is funny like that...
Image by susan-lu4esm - source: Pixabay
Time, the fourth dimension, is a weird phenomenon indeed when you take the time to think about it. While we're free to move in any direction in the three spacial dimensions, time restricts us to that single direction, forever propelling us into the unknown and unknowable future. Past and future are accessible in our minds only, leaving us with the reality of an ever present, but also ever fleeting "now". How long does a moment last? However long that is, it lasts in our minds only. Did you know that we actually can see into the future? Or at least, our brains make predictions of the future model of reality it builds; it has to in order to make up for the time it takes for visual input to be processed, or else tennis players wouldn't be able to return the ball... Consider the following passage from a 2018 "Quantamagazine" article:
According to this “predictive coding” theory, at each level of a cognitive process, the brain generates models, or beliefs, about what information it should be receiving from the level below it. These beliefs get translated into predictions about what should be experienced in a given situation, providing the best explanation of what’s out there so that the experience will make sense. The predictions then get sent down as feedback to lower-level sensory regions of the brain. The brain compares its predictions with the actual sensory input it receives, “explaining away” whatever differences, or prediction errors, it can by using its internal models to determine likely causes for the discrepancies. (For instance, we might have an internal model of a table as a flat surface supported by four legs, but we can still identify an object as a table even if something else blocks half of it from view.)
Mystery Of Time (1957)
That's why we each have our own unique reality; our individual brains make predictions based on beliefs that are in turn based on past experiences. And our experiences, gathered from infinite fleeting infinitesimal moments, are unique indeed. Still, we can not function, not as individuals or as societies, without the general understanding that there is just one reality "out there". If two people can't agree that there's a wall ahead, one of them will bump into it; only one of them is right, and the other's individual perspective simply doesn't agree with reality. That's why it has been amazing for me to witness so many Americans in this past year whose perspective on politics simply doesn't agree with reality; you know who I'm talking about. 2020 has been a crazy year, with a crazy last quarter, and it has been one of the longest years I've ever experienced.
The Mystery of Time
That's yet another remarkable feature of our perspective on time: it flies by when we're having fun, but drags its feet when we're not. On the other hand, time in our minds lasts longer when we pack it full with many different experiences, visiting new places, meeting new faces with new names; that's the way to make fun last infinitely longer. Our socioeconomic arrangement doesn't provide many people with that opportunity though; the constant struggle to make ends meet so many of us have been sentenced to by late stage capitalism robs us from the chance to live full and truly productive lifes. This is, in my opinion, the greatest theft of all time; more than 90 percent of the planet's population has to work hard all their lifes, convicted to a gray and dreary existence of waking up, going to work, coming home to watch some TV or an even smaller screen before repeating the same cycle again and again, counting the days until the next weekend or holiday. That's "killing time" quite literally, and not in a good way...
This long year is behind us now though and the future is still a mystery; who knows what comes next? Whatever that is, I'd like to wrap this up by saying a sincere and heartfelt "thank you" to all of you, dear readers. You've given me the priceless and timeless gift of purpose. This blog would not exist without you; I'm not one to start my daily writings with the words "Dear Diary..." As we travel through time together, we say goodbye 2020, and hello 2021 always forging ahead towards the unknown; thank you for joining me on this adventure! Oh, included are videos about time, one from a while back, one from the recent past, and this last one I like most since it is one that could have come from any time; be sure to watch it, think about it, take your time, this year or the next ;-)
Alan Watts - Mystery of Time
Thanks so much for visiting my blog and reading my posts dear reader, I appreciate that a lot :-) If you like my content, please consider leaving a comment, upvote or resteem. I'll be back here tomorrow and sincerely hope you'll join me. Until then, keep safe, keep healthy!
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