Time has been on my mind recently. How best to traverse it? How best to master it? And how has it mastered us?
This also gets into questions of free will and moral agency. How much in our lives has already happened, based purely on the forces of cause and effect? Are we locked in a fated trajectory that we cannot escape, like an object caught in the unbreakable pull of a black hole?
These seem like questions best left to Stephen Hawkings and other physicists to ponder. But I can’t escape the implications it has on my daily life and longterm goals.
Fiction presents us with many different types of time traversal, some of them more plausible than others.
But I’ve been focused more recently on the time travel we’re all engaged in: the one where we move one second, one millisecond, one nanosecond at a time through the fourth dimension, always moving what we interpret as forward, and never back.
How we seem to experience time’s passing is interesting. Trying to grasp onto any given moment seems to be impossible, because then it’s gone. Tomorrow never comes, because by the time it gets here, it’s already transformed into today.
This is one of many arguments for time being an illusion. And what if it is? What if everything we’ve ever done, are doing or will do is actually all happening at once? What if we can only process it one moment a time, but it’s all immutably happening anyway?
And are the implications for death? Are we already dead? Does oblivion already bookend our finite thread of existence?
It also makes changing our path more difficult. Whatever choices we make may very well be illusions of free will3, meaning time could be interpreted as the endless string of cause and effect that start long before us that we simply cannot alter or escape.
So just like object cause in the black hole, we’re already trapped in our own terminal event horizon, and there’s absolutely nothing we can do it about.