What is ‘time?’ Why do we perceive it linearly, when science tells us this is an illusion?
I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. For a couple of months, actually, it has been consuming my thoughts.
I watched the series ‘The Fabric of the Universe with Brian Greene’ (which is streaming free on Amazon Prime, by the way! Drop what you are doing and watch!). Like the studious nerd that I am, I took notes and paused the episode frequently. I ruminated on it quite a bit.
Then I saw the movie ‘Arrival’ a few weeks ago and the concept of time has been on my mind nearly every day constantly ever since. (HIGHLY recommended)
So we experience time in a linear fashion, yet science tells us that time in its entirety is actually ALL being experienced in one moment simultaneously. Why don’t we experience time in this all-encompassing way? Why does it need to be linear for us?
This morning I read a theory/belief manifesto posted & written on Twitter (you can pop over to @amie_zor to get a glance) and this moved my theory needle quite a bit. Props to the original poster @PhilosopherK1ng!
This manifesto posited the stance that time as we know it is linear because we are moving more slowly. So slow, in fact, that this in turn allows us to perceive the linear-ness of the moments we are in – which if we were moving faster, or perhaps the better term is if we were existing faster, we would not be able to observe.
In order to perceive this “becoming-ness” and immerse ourselves in this 3D experience on this plane we need to move/exist more slowly in order to perceive the cycles. Better yet – we need to be a visceral part of the cycles. Hence – the human body.
I was thinking along these same lines a few weeks ago as I was ruminating on the cycles of nature. In the grand scheme of things, time and our reality is really recycled; therefore existing in one long, extended moment. In terms of atoms and molecules, there is no “death” – they just keep recreating themselves within transformation. The particles that make up our bodies do not leave upon the concept of “death.” They just transform themselves again into something new.
I was thinking about time and how trees and plants might perceive it. Trees grow so slowly – their lifespans easily eclipse ours in many cases – and I wondered what it would be like to exist in that state. Humans and animals scurrying about, the seasons cycling through quite fast in comparison to our own human perception.
Then I wondered if there was life out there that was even slower – or even faster. Like the mayfly, for instance: their life span might be just 30 minutes to 2 days. To them, humans must seem like trees or part of the landscape, maybe.
Then I was pondering the concept of sleep. Why is it that we need it so badly? That we need that recharge every night in order to operate so optimally in this world? It feels to me that we actually cannot sustain ourselves here without it – so it’s almost like the dream world is our real home. Our energy center, so to speak. Without it, we could not exist here. We need dreams and REM sleep in our lives, but we really cannot articulate why.
Perhaps the answer is that we cannot exist here without sleep because we cannot FULLY inhabit this waking plane of existence 24/7 because we are not preternaturally inclined to it? Perhaps we inclined to move/exist faster than is normal here, but we need to be ‘locked’ into our human bodies in order to live and perceive this experience. We need the ‘locking’ mechanism that is the human body and waking consciousness in order to see / hear / be here at all?
Without the human body, maybe we would perceive all of everything and inhabit all worlds and all times simultaneously – like we do when we sleep. Perhaps that is our true existence – but somehow it does not stick in our memory the same way as it does here in our plane of existence because it doesn’t adhere to the memory structure. Dream-time existence doesn’t move as slow as our waking consciousness, so our waking consciousness cannot hold onto these memories as well as it can when things are slower.
All this considered – this makes me reconsider space travel. I read an article discussing space travel, the ongoing search for exoplanets, and how the nearest one would take us nearly 75,000 years to travel to using our current fastest technology. Needless to say, we move / exist too slowly to conceive of traveling that distance in any perceivable way without artificial intelligence.
But if we could somehow unlock ourselves from our current body-consciousness – this perceived reality that moves slowly enough to appreciate and participate in the unfolding cycles of this world – perhaps we can move faster, and therefore this distance would not be an issue. Maybe we could just manifest ourselves to said exoplanet without issue, since we are perceiving time as one moment?
All theory, of course, but I love the puzzle pieces when they seem to fit – even if in fantasy. However, in my mind, fantasy is but the beginning of fact. We cannot go where we have not first imagined.
I will be reflecting much more on this subject and look forward to finding some additional reads that might catapult this further. If there are any readers out there with sources / books / podcasts / etc. that might add to this unwieldy thought-train, please share or add in the comments !
Happy Thursday friends ❤