By the Front Porch Talker
Somewhere along the time-space continuum we have space-time. Space is three-dimensional and time is in the fourth-dimension, with different spatial dimensions. According to perceptions, the universe has three dimensions of space and one of time. By combining space and time, we have the freedom to describe life more accurately—from the quantum level to the super galactical levels; thus, expanding our entire perceptions of time and space, and life ultimately.
Everything is relative, of course, even our own experiences and perceptions of life. Depending upon where we are observing an event, how close and how distant, and depending on the gravitational forces, we see what remains a fixed idea or perception of a truth, simply because we experienced it, forgetting that there is a bigger picture out there in the universe somewhere.
Our perceptions of time depend not only on the gravitational forces, but subjectively how we experience time. Metaphorically speaking, why does time seem to move too quickly when we are excited and engaged in the present moment, with such deep focus? Why does time seem to move eternally slow when we are depressed or isolated, seemingly repeating the same words to some awful song over and over?
What about epiphanies, which are preceded by the perception of uneven time moving in fits-and-starts, from faster to slower in uneven increments, then settling on that one spectacular blissful moment when we feel that time and space have perfectly melded into our understanding of the bigger picture of the world and our lives. Would obsessions be uneven time that settles into isolation, then?
Expression of our reality, the writing-and-speaking time continuum, lags far behind the universe, in both time and space. So, while the meta-world travels faster than the speed of light, with strings of energy, parallel universes, worm holes, black and white holes, and dying stars—we are stuck here on earth, dragged down by the tremendous force of gravity that is our language to describe life.
Literally and figuratively speaking, our dimensions of expression in the English language lag light-years behind perceptions of time and space in the universe. Speaking-and-writing time is a continuum of tenses, from past-perfect to future-perfect, with the present time somewhere in between past and future.
In addition, in the speaking-and-writing time continuum, our tenses are further slowed by wishy-washy possibilities: conditional-time, which considers all the possibilities, past and present; progressive-time (subjunctive), which is forever lighting on this point or that without a conclusion; and, (subjunctive) mood time, which is touchy-feely and passive-aggressive.
Our language is always limited by time and tense, just as we are. Spoken or written, language is stuck in compartments, or packages of energy. We say that we are in present tense. For example, we walk into a Dodge Dealership and buy a big new truck, on credit of course. Presently, we sign the loan papers.
But, the moment we drive our four-by-four Dodge Ram Truck out of the parking lot, we are already in the simple past. Our truck was new and was worth the price we paid on credit, but it lost value just by driving it away. The longer we own that truck, the older it gets (and we get), and the fuzzier our memory becomes of that day when we had that past-perfect recollection that eventually fades back into simple past when we retell the story, out of simplicity. Finally, we trade the truck in for a new one and we are back in the present-tense again. Then, we are in the future buying a new truck and then to future-perfect.
Our experiences and memories are shaded by “conditional-time” that moves us backward and forward in time, infinitely, never settling on a definite decision. It is the land of what if’s and what might have been’s. Likewise, “progressive-time” is always moving forward without conclusion or introspection. It is the workaholic-time where we never stop working long enough to conclude anything about our lives. It gives the illusion of progress.
Past-perfect is somewhere between forgetting and remembering. The longer we have lived, the more we have remembered and forgotten. From the simple past to further past to past-perfect, we move further into our memories from years ago, while never perfectly recalling all the details.
We may vividly recall our imagined mistakes overlaying those with our similar present mistakes. Somebody misunderstands or has an image of us that we feel personally insulted by. We believe this sleight was intentional, which distances us and adds insult to insult.
We are certain that we will never be understood by this person, nor will we understand them. We remember only a particle or two of the insult, forgetting the context of when and how the remark had been made. We hear only a grain of the truth, say, that we were egotistical or that we cared too much about our public image.
Thus, we are stuck in between, in past-perfect where time and memories collide, distorting the truth, by causing endless repetitions of that one moment, or those few words: ego, image, cared—when we had been insulted. Although we move forward with our lives in the physical world, our past-perfect memories remain distant triggering moments frozen in time that multiply with even further distant insults that keep us forever stuck in the past, with no language to describe this state of being.
However, our recall is paradoxical: according to the Laws of Quantum Mechanics, everything will repeat itself over and over again; but, our limited time perceptions try to control an imagined timelessness of hopes and fears and sentiments into little packets of energy that are separate from the rest of our reality. So, what good is time travel if we are destined to keep making the same mistakes and having the same misperceptions with others? Why communicate at all?
In a seemingly random moment, we see that person with whom we have felt so much misunderstanding and doubt. We take a leap-of-faith anyway when that person explains the context of their remark in the present. “Oh,” they say to you casually, almost as an aside, “I used the words ego and image and caring to describe you after seeing those very words quoted by you somewhere. I didn’t mean that I thought you were egotistic or controlling of your image. I would feel the same way.”
It is then that your perception changes from past-perfect to present, and then into the future. These missteps in life are merely packets of fear or anger or despair freely floating in the speaking-writing time continuum. They only have meaning if we assign meaning to them. We only free ourselves from the time and memory repetition by allowing for randomness and chaos in our lives. We must admit that we have no control over when or how or why good or bad things happen to us. But we can awaken ourselves to the quaint possibility that language hinders us from moving out of past-perfect and into present compassion.
We signify this new compassion for ourselves after others have first been compassionate towards us. That is, we are not born with the ability to love others. First, others must love us giving us the example of compassion and unconditional love. If we don’t have this love, freely given to us, we cannot give it to somebody else, nor get love from someone else. Although we seem to be living in the same parallel universe, assuming that we are equally able to love and have compassion, the reality is that we are not even in the same galaxy speaking the same language.
This explains several possible theories about why some people become narcissists or sociopaths—unable to feel empathy, and without a conscience. If they had been abused or neglected at a very young age, there is an “empty self” who cannot love others. Metaphorically speaking, they are forever stuck in past-perfect time that is so many light-years gone that the person is no longer fully conscious of the original abuse or insult. They may remember it intellectually, but have no ability to recall those painful memories, nor to experience them fully.
That is how past-perfect time, on the one hand, can be recall of fond memories of our childhood that may be distorted as time goes by; or how past-perfect time can imprison us in an endless repetition of insults or injury, or vacant bits of abuse or neglect that impair our ability to be present permanently.
If Past-perfect time is for stuck memories, then Future-perfect time is for dreamers and salesmen and optimists. Without the past to dwell on and casts doubts about the meaning of our lives, we are free to dream ahead to the infinite possibilities of what may lie ahead, given our current course of movement. Thus, we plan our futures as we think life should progress: college, marriage, work, divorce, work, retirement, and so on. For many of us, when our futures don’t progress in a straight line, the dream is in contra temps and irrationality, until we rewrite it.
No wonder we feel misunderstood: We are. Speaking-and-writing time is always once or twice removed from the present moment. We spend our lives trying to shore-up time, in one direction or another. Metaphorically speaking, we exist in separate, parallel universes where we seem to be in the same world understanding the same things, wanting the same dreams: but we aren’t. We may be light-years away from each other, while sitting together in the same place. Or, we may be inextricably connected to each other, while we have never met.
It’s no secret that every once in a while we awaken from our dreams. We realize that we have done this all before, again and again, ad infinitum; but only now are we aware that just thinking about it changes everything—somewhere inbetween time.
The Front Porch Talker, somewhere in between time