A continuation of the ideas that we have about things.
Humans do a lot of Abstracting. I haven’t decided if this is good; good or bad, abstraction is an interesting phenomenon. It’s so natural to our kind that it’s become rather difficult to imagine a human perspective that is void of abstractions. The act of abstracting can be turned off, if one has enough discipline. Meditation can do this, so can shutting down the internal dialogue of the mind.
I have often wondered how the mind worked in the very early stages of our civilizations. No doubt, we’ve been Promethean for a long, long time; but to what extent? And just what is the relationship of forethought to abstraction.
Our ability to distinguish between past, present and future is, perhaps, responsible for our natural inclinations toward abstraction. Seeing the timeline in such a way perhaps was our first abstraction and is worthy of further comment.
Things of the Past
I believe that the past is more deserving of mistrust than either the present or the future. The historian and the scientist struggle, mightily, against the forces of ignorance. Every generation sees only the vision of its experience. Each historian must weigh the chronology for him or her self, must fight against and with the zeitgeist. And the scientist must balance funding with the pursuit of knowledge.
Any one individual has only experienced a very tiny portion of the past. Nor are the memories that those experiences engendered trustworthy. Sometimes, they are like the molecules of water in a vast ocean – subject to currents that span its length and breath; they slip and then they slide over one another, and the wind whips them into a tempest and the moon calls them to rise and to fall. At other times, they are like buoys upon that ocean – mere pinpricks of light marking the backward way.
I find that my memories of an event do not jibe with someone else’s memory of the same event. I have no reason to believe that my own memory is more accurate or better than theirs – except for one thing – it’s mine.
Things of the Present
Within the present moment many of us experience clarity. It is this clarity we call our life, and it is what we fear losing to pain, disease or death.
No one can say what the present is like for another, but surely my experience of it is similar to yours. Similar not like one triangle is to another, but like one moment is to the next.
There is the likeness of our breathing, or of our blood flowing, of vision, sound, feeling, taste and smell. We are driven by similar basic and complex needs. and we share a similar struggle to meet those needs.
The really weird thing about the present is trying to put your arms around it. It seems steady, but is fleeting – easily slipping away into the next moment that just as quickly fades. And only in this moment do we consider the past or the future. Everything we do is in the present, all of our accomplishments are in the past and all of our hopes are in the future. Small wonder we lead lives of quiet desperation.
Things of the Future
If the past is murky and the present is slippery, then the future is simply a null expression until it gets here. For me, the future is like millions of dice that must be rolled each moment.
When I roll the dice, I pretty much know that the outcome of each die will be somewhere between one and six. I can also calculate probabilities and combinations and permutations until you figure that I must be some kind of mathematical genius, but I still can’t predict the value of a single die nor can I know the value of the sum of all the dice unless I just get lucky.
So we can’t know the future until it happens at which time it becomes the present, and then when we think about it, it’s in the past. I think this is why I like poetry the best.