The Philosopher's Pen
  Last update:  May 2010

John Wheeler once described Time as "That which stops everything happening at once".

In many books I have read, or web-sites visited, I have seen the description of time... although I have never seen mention of its meaning.  Time is described in lengthy explanations of big-bang theories and in the mind-boggling notations in quantum equations.  Its meaning, however, seems to elude us still.  We peer through electron tunnelling microscopes at the pulsating energies within molecules.  We peer endlessly through the eyes of electronic telescopes at the very edge of our universe.  The further out we see, the further back in time we go.  The more we descend into the world of the tiny, the more magical and wonderful time seems to become.  Looking up, the passage of time seems slow and infinite.  Looking into the structure of space and time seems fleeting and inconsistent.

Yet, we know it exists.  We can measure it in units.  We can live by it and work within it.  It both liberates us and constrains us.  It is there, about us, everywhere.  So what is it?  What is its purpose?  What are we meant to know because of it? 

It seems to me that there are two fundamental attributes to time:

  • The fact that it is an arrow, fired from a bow at the instant of the Big Bang, and forever moving forward.  One day we might learn to manipulate the vector and travel backwards in time.  But even then, somewhere, the arrow continues ever onward.  However, what we must learn first, in my humble opinion, is to influence the arrows path ahead of us.  We are, if you like, consciously standing on the very edge, of the very point, of the arrow of time.  We are able to influence its direction because we are part of it, not separate from it.  We can, by acting in this very moment, influence the very nature of the next.  And the next.  How the circumstances of our lives unfold is up to us.  We can create whatever we wish to create.  But we must start from the point we are at now, and always concentrate our efforts to ensure that the circumstances unfold toward the point we wish to be.  At some time, when we have been working at this task for a long time, suddenly the circumstances in our lives reach a critical point, and from there, everything seems to fall into place.  It becomes easier to move towards our goals.  It is as though things around us are conspiring to assist us in our objectives.   And, if we are all actively pursuing this skill, then perhaps at some time in the future, we will learn, as a species, to live, and be, in such a way that we focus everything we are at ensuring that time unfolds for the better of every one of us.
  • The fact that it is not separate from, but in fact a product of, the very structure and building blocks of reality.  The universe itself unfolds according to the natural bubbling of quantum probability, and the spinning of atoms into molecules, and molecules into lattices, and so on... until planets and moons spin about stars, and galaxies turn in space....  Time is not a quantity separate from this, but a quality of it.  Like Mass, Gravity, Light... these things are an inevitable consequence of the very structure of all things... Time, by its very nature, is the same.  It is a result of, and not a determinant of, the fabric of reality.  And we can manipulate the fabric.  What I do now has bearing on what happens next.  What happens next will influence the next moment, and so on, ad infinitum.  Always has this been so.  Always will it be so.  This is one of the fundamental laws of this universe.  You can create.  You are, for all intents and purposes, a creator.  You are powerful.  All you have to do, is choose it to be so, work to make it so, and thus it will be.

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