Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

Maybe Time Isn't Linear

Vino Bello, Napa, California, USA

April 22, 2016

This essay, Maybe Time Isn't Linear, is the sixth in the septology Time:
  1. Time On My Hands
  2. I'm Playing So Hard I've Got No Time To Be Busy
  3. Enough Time
  4. Moving Time Around
  5. One Day One Life: A Reflection On Time
  6. Maybe Time Isn't Linear
  7. Just ... Don't ... Be ... Late
in that order.

Five minute glass sand timer with natural sand

by GW Schleidt
There are many notions of what time is ie there are many plausible assumptions about what time is, and of what time isn't - as well as of what time might  be. The notion of time is deeply embedded in the very fabric of our lives. Indeed it's not likely our world could function if we ignored it. And as centrally obvious as it is to our very existence, time is neither a simple nor an easy notion to explain or define. Yet even with the merest cursory examination, what's likely to be revealed is whatever time is (and whatever time isn't), it's probably not what we simplistically conceive of as linear.

The simplest notion of what time is (which is to say the simplest notion of how we mostly assume time works) is that it's moving ahead linearly ie in a straight line. We assume that time originates somewhere behind us before the past, then moves forward on through the present with us, then continues on to somewhere ahead of us beyond the future. In business patois, we even assign this concept its own word: we call it the "time-line".

That may indeed be a very popular, very plausible description of how time works. It's certainly near the colloquial view. But given this is an inquiry, and given this is a conversation for transformation, I'd like to propose that maybe time isn't linear. Furthermore if time moves in a straight line from before the past, through the present, and continues on beyond the future, that's presupposing time would be both objective as well as  linear, yes?

But what if time isn't objective? Furthermore, what if time is neither objective nor  linear? What if time (or at least one critical aspect of time) is subjective?  And what if time, rather than being linear ie rather than being a straight line originating before the past, moving through the present, then continuing on to beyond the future, is actually an ever-expanding sphere  radiating out from a central point? (the sphere's central point is located exactly where we locate who we consider ourselves to be).

And what if this ever-expanding sphere we call time ie what if this ever-expanding spherical aspect  of time, is congruent with the space we really are while we expand and expand as contextual beings, including more and more of our world and the universe, until it eventually includes all of Life itself?  In other words, what if time as an ever-expanding sphere, is really a function of our inexorably growing being-with-it-all-ness, and also of our inexorably growing being-responsible-for-it-all-ness? If it's true (it's a postulate  - so "If  it's true ...") then a colloquial notion of a linearly straight-line time would quickly disappear, a casualty of our untransformed naïvete.

With all that said, I have almost zero interest really in trying to understand or explain time. When this idea of time presented itself to me one day recently as I was out doing errands, I liked the way it has who I am as a context for time, rather than having who I am be at best subject to time and at worst, a victim of time. So I wrote it down. On the other hand, if I do have any interest at all in regard to time, it's in articulating a way to relate to time that works ie that's pragmatic and has leverage.

Speaking pragmatically and with leverage, our lives were once mostly considered to be functions of the pasts we had. Being around Werner reveals it's a better bet our lives are functions of the futures we create  - and it works better to create into nothing. In this regard, there's a dearth of futures with nothing in them, into which we can create. We've been amiss in filling our futures with our pasts. So pragmatic time management gets the past out of the future, and puts it back in the past, leaving the future empty with lots of space into which we can create. This works - whether time is linear, or whether it's an ever-expanding sphere. And: maybe it isn't linear.

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