Alice kept a close eye on time. It was a driving force in her life. She was fascinated by it, at least when it wasn’t driving her around the bend. The thought of ever being late was a stimulus that could set her pulse racing. She had a small collection of favourite watches; one for every occasion. Every spring and fall she even synchronized her watches with Greenwich Mean Time, to ensure that their time was as accurate as possible.
One afternoon, Alice and Blake (the new tenant down the hall) engaged in a brief conversation. It began when they stepped onto the elevator of their apartment building, and he noticed her glance at her watch.
“Nice watch,” Blake said, smiling. “Is it new?”
“Thank you,” said Alice. “I’ve had it for about a year.”
It’s odd, isn’t it” said Blake, “we count something that doesn’t exist.”
“Say what?” said Alice, with a puzzled look.
“Time; it’s just a concept. All there actually is, is the eternal now; but humankind mentally slices it into arbitrary measures that we label seconds, minutes, hours, and days.”
“But there’s even atomic clocks,” said Alice. “They’re incredibly accurate.” The elevator doors slid open, and they stepped out, onto the 8th floor.
“Yes, I know,” said Blake, “but they’re still just measuring a concept.”
“I’m not sure that I know what you mean,” said Alice.
“Can we sit for a minute?” said Blake, with a glance toward the bench opposite the elevator. Alice nodded, and they sat down.
“This might help,” he said. “Time is just a convenient concept. It’s basically a framework that we use to arrange our lives. It allows us to get to appointments on time, and schedule a conceptual future.”
“Conceptual?” said Alice, perplexed.
“Yup, conceptual. Let’s try this,” said Blake. “If I asked you to meet me at McMillan Park this Saturday at 2:00 p.m. to go for a walk, when do you think that would take place? That is, if you agreed.”
“Well, this Saturday at 2:00 p.m.”
“This is where time gets tricky,” said Blake. “Our walk at the park could only take place now.”
“But that’s crazy!” exclaimed Alice. “Now, we’re sitting on a bench in our apartment building.”
“Is it?” asked Harold. “Can you ever live the future, even half an hour from now?”
Alice became still, and a grin swept across her face as she arrived at her answer. “No, I guess not.”
“We only live now,” said Harold. “It’s all there is.”
“I agree,” said Alice. “It’s important to be in the moment.”
“We can never actually be in a moment, either; because a moment is still a measurement of time. It might help if you considered the Now as a constant backdrop, rather than a measurement. We literally can’t escape it.”
“This is so strange,” said Alice.
“I agree,” said Blake. “We live our lives as though a real past and a real future actually exist; but they don’t, and they never will. The past is just a conceptual period in memory; and the future is just a conceptual period in imagination.”
“So, if I understand you correctly,” said Alice, “you’re saying that this morning at my job doesn’t really exist.”
“Not beyond memory, no,” said Harold.
“Sure feels real,” said Alice.
Harold smiled. “I know. I learned something from Eckhart Tolle that helped me understand this stuff more clearly. Here’s an example he gave about the past: He said that if you had a time machine and could push a button and travel backward in time–say to the 17th century, that you would still step out of the machine and say, “Now, I’m in the 17th century!”
“I get it,” said Alice, smiling. “And now, I guess I better get these frozen groceries into the refrigerator before they melt!.”
With that, Alice and Blake stood and headed off in opposite directions to their apartments. He had only taken a few steps, when he turned around and said, “What do you think about having a walk in McMillan Park? Would you like to go sometime?”
“Sure,” said Alice, with a smile. “Now?”
Dear Readers: Have you been carrying worries that belong to the false self in time/space? They do not belong to the real YOU.
Dare to Dream (and care for one another).
With heartfelt regards,
Copyright © – 2022 – R. Arthur Russell
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