Thursday, November 18, 2010

A Rewriting Of History

The past is a pliable myth and the future is merely an illusion, the present moment is all that exists.

That the future is an illusion has always seemed logical enough, no matter what expectations I have or plans I make today I have no inkling of what tomorrow will bring, or the next moment for that matter. There are no guarantees that I will even live to see the sun set on this day. Likewise, it seems natural to say that the only moment truly in existence is the here and now, it is this moment alone that I can have a direct influence over, the only moment that truly matters is the present one. Just as it makes perfect sense that the future has not yet been called into existence one can come to accept that the past has slipped irrevocably beyond our reach, but I admit that I have always struggled with the conception of a malleable past.

A zen master once said "We must reverse our thinking and see that the past always flows back from the present, That now is the creative point of life." This flies in the face of the Western linear view of time in which the present moment is the direct and literal culmination of every moment that preceded it. And while it is one thing to recognize the limitations imposed by this conception, it is something else entirely to shift our paradigms altogether. How can the present moment possibly effect the past when it is a myth, even less accessible to us than Jupiter's 63rd moon?

Yet this is precisely what happens when we speak to one another, you wait until later to find out the meaning of a sentence. Suppose we cross paths, I speak first and the first words that reaches your ears are 'I love'... At this point you have no way of knowing whether I am going to confess my undying love for you or simply share the fact that I enjoy running into you this way. It is only later, when I finish my sentence, that these words are retroactively imbued with meaning. Similarly, when we listen to the flow of music the expression of the melody early in the song is changed by the notes that come after. To take this concept a step further, this same phenomenon is precisely what takes place when you forgive someone who has wronged you. With no more effort than thinking, by merely making a decision, you have radically altered the meaning of the past, entire years worth of history are changed the moment your heart is.


Meg said...

thank you

Crystal said...

You are very welcome <3