That picture of me and a buddy smoking a cigar in 29 Palms before Iraq was 18 years ago, but it seems like yesterday. That’s because time doesn’t exist. It’s not a real thing. If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you may have noticed the shifting trajectory over the past six years. The blog started as a way to write silly things to my friends and the early topics were accordingly absurd. There’s always been a veteran focus which gave way to musing about war, politics, and culture and several million views later, here I am today. As of late, the blog has leaned more into the stoic and philosophical phase and I’m sure if you follow this blog long enough, I’ll start writing about my favorite adult diapers and incontinence supplies. However, as of late I’ve come across a scientific/philosophical discovery that is simply too important to keep to myself. Namely, that time doesn’t exist. It’s not a real thing. I’m being completely serious and though it is indeed my birthday, this isn’t just some vain attempt to hide the fact that I’m getting older. I’ve made peace with my eventual demise a long time ago and I’m heading there with a smile on my face. But friends, time doesn’t exist. It’s not a thing and though this blog is sure to be heavy reading, considering that most of you are reading this on the toilet right now, I think you’ve got the time. So, let’s jump right in.
Time Does Not Exist
Consider your own memories and because I know many of you are veterans of war, feel free to use your own military experience as a guide. Consider any two memories in your past and try to pick some that are many years apart. Perhaps that is when you graduated boot camp, when you deployed, or perhaps even when you retired. All of those memories, regardless of how far apart they are both seem like just yesterday. Just yesterday it seems that I was hearing the snap and crack of a bullet flying overhead in Iraq and just yesterday, I can remember a similar sound of rounds coming downrange during qualification at boot camp. It seems just yesterday, but Iraq was over 18 years ago for me.
Consider the birth of your first child or the day they graduated high school, and those memories too seem like just yesterday. We remember things because they are significant and not because of the perceived proximity in time. If proximity were the case, you should be able to remember what you had for lunch last Thursday more than your first kiss. The reality is that when you think back to the sum of your entire memory, each memory looks more like a picture on a 2 dimensional collage rather than a stack of index cards organized in chronological order. You don’t thumb through your memories to get somewhere, they are all simultaneously laid out before you. There’s a broader point to this, I promise, so stick with me.
I spent a good portion of this year looking forward to a Vegas trip with my wife. That’s not a Vegas specific thing, but more of finding time to cuddle with the wife without the kids waking up, banging on the door, and asking if we’ve recently adopted a small family of howling monkeys. It was a great trip, Paris hotel, I highly recommend it, but now that its over it is almost like it never happened. You know the exact same feeling from anything you looked forward too in your life that has since come and gone. Why? Because time doesn’t exist. It’s not a thing and that’s ok.
The Perception of Time Is Nothing More A Negative Integer
You remember learning about the number line or timeline in school and you were introduced to the concept of a negative integer. This is, of course, a number less than zero. The funny thing is, negative integers don’t exist. They are not a real thing. You can’t have negative 3 beers and somehow undo the 3 beers you just drank. Negative integers have no other purpose of helping you conceptualize where you have been and what you have done. The past does not exist and time is merely a concept to help you conceptualize where you have been and what you have done.
So where was I then when I was in Vegas? Well, I was in the same place I am right now and the only place I’ll ever be and that is in the present. Meanwhile, the future is not guaranteed and much like Schrodinger’s Cat, it has to be experienced for it to actually be. When will you experience the future? In the only place you’ve ever been and that is in the present. That is to say, you just exist in the here and now. Look at the number line and come to terms with the fact that you will live your entire life at 0. That is neither positive or negative. You just exist in the here and now because you do.
That it is my birthday today is a highly irrelevant unit of measurement. There is no other being in the universe that is measuring the perception of time according to the rotations of the Earth around the Sun. When you are on the Teacup ride at Disneyland, you don’t measure the experience by the number of rotations around and round do you? No, rather you see the ride as the entire sum of one experience. How was the Teacup ride? It was great. How was life? It was great. And finally, we are getting to the utility of recognizing that time doesn’t exist. It’s not a thing.
If Time Doesn’t Exist, Stop Regretting the Past or Looking Forward to the Future
I’ve made it clear on this blog that I hold Christian beliefs and though I’m not a fundamentalist by any means, it provides a proper set of moral scaffolding that allows me to navigate this existence. In that regard, religion is in many ways no more of a man made construct than is Physics, Math, Chemistry or any other science. You see, science poses the fundamental question of “how.” In order to answer the question of “how”, we’ve made up arbitrary units of measurement and assign them words which provide the scaffolding to operate in this world. For example, in America we use the highly logical and far superior system of miles, gallons, and pints. Meanwhile, the rest of the world has not caught on and is still using that archaic system of kilometers, grams, and milliliters. I’m talking to you Canada.
Oh yes Canada, please tell me how many grams of your “bacon” that you ate today. Me, I had a pound of fatty American bacon and I like it that way. However, whether you measure speed in miles or kilometers is highly irrelevant, just so long as you can measure them. Both allow you to measure speed when combined with another arbitrary and made up unit of measurement, time. Science doesn’t create a single element, thing, or item in the universe. It just has words to measure what already is and if possibly, understand it in a way that you can do stuff with the stuff that already existed.
Understanding how allows you harness the power of lift and fly a plane. Understanding how allows you to harness the power of buoyancy and float a boat. I am of the resolute belief that “Why” is as equally a fundamental question as “how” and religion and faith simply seeks to answer the question of “why”. We know that we do exist and while none of us seem to particularly know why, we do our best to understand and reconcile that existence with a purpose. As it pertains to time, when you recognize that it doesn’t exist you can truly let go of that arbitrary experience you like to call the past. The sum of all the mistakes you made do not exist anywhere in the universe. You have same amount of “time” today as you did on any single day of your entire existence. In fact the only thing that you are guaranteed is the very moment you have right now. That is to exist in the current present. Letting go of regret is nourishment to the soul and otherwise, you’d be regretting that you just spent your entire bathroom break reading this blog right now. But wait, there’s more.
If Time Doesn’t Exist, Then What Are We Even Doing Here?
I find it humorous that great minds the like of Elon Musk and Neil Degrasse Tyson have both acknowledge the real possibility that we are living in an artificial simulation. Their hypothesis is that the rapid advancement of technology will lead us to the ability to simulate an entire universe and if so, there is a pretty low chance that we are living in base reality right now. In just 40 years, video games have done from pong which is a line going up and down to entirely expansive universes that live online. They put forward that if you assume any rate of progress, imagine what will be possible in 100 years. To be put that in perspective, humans first took flight just 120 years ago and today, we have a helicopter flying on Mars. 120 is nothing in the human experience, that is, if time existed to begin with.
Oddly enough, the simulation theory is not that far off from any religion as it acknowledges a creator. They just think that creator is some 13 year old kid running an experiment in his basement. Muslims think it is Allah. I think it is God. Scientologist think it is, well, honestly I’m sure what they think, but you get the point. Moreover, whatever hell or heaven you believe exits, we know it doesn’t exist in this reality. Right, I mean heaven is not in outer space is it? You can’t take a left past the moon and follow the second star to the right, straight on till morning to get there can you? Religion also assumes that we are not living in base reality. They are all taking their swipe at answering the question of “why” and just like “how” has a functional answer and always did though humans didn’t understand it for so long, so too does “why” have an answer.
You exist for a purpose and that purpose will always be lived out in the only place you will ever be and that is the present. A couple of weeks ago, over 100 people were sleeping in a Florida condo with plans for a future that never existed. What a terrible shame it would be if they went to sleep that night living in regret over a past that doesn’t exist either. That’s because time doesn’t exist. It’s not a real thing and as such, you can live free in the present moment. Today is my birthday and yet, it is no more or less relevant than any other moment because it’s all the present. Though, I’ll attach my Paypal drink fund pool link here and if any one of you want to buy me a drink for my birthday, feel free. Time may not exist, but thankfully whiskey does.
In Summary And Conclusion
Think back to your deployment and you quickly recognize that you knew all along that time doesn’t exist. Back in 2003 Iraq, there was no defined end date for deployment and as such, every day was just waking up and surviving while trying to squeeze out a little joy in each day. Great conversation with great Marines, read books like never before and sometimes, just sat 120 degree heat and sweated for hours without so much as saying a word. The perception of time was nonexistent and there was a certain joy to be had in that. Go ahead and pull out one of your deployment pictures and tell me that wasn’t just yesterday.
Einstein will tell you that space and time are essentially the same thing and moreover, it becomes relative when you approach the speed of light. You’ve heard of the paradox of the twins where if twins were born and one moves forward at the speed of light and the other remains on Earth, at the end of one earth revolution around the sun the moving one would be an infant and the one on Earth would be an old man. Well, what is that but a glitch? In a video game, the world lags and before you know it, you are halfway across the map. Science is some trippy stuff and I do not believe that “how” is irreconcilable with “why.” To be clear I don’t think we are living in a video game simulation, but nor do I think our lifespan on Earth is the sum of what it means to exist.
Living in the present as if time doesn’t exist, because it doesn’t, is not a call to debauchery. You know very well that you can’t pleasure your way to joy in the present with all the drink, food, or sex in the world. You can, however, make the most of the only existence you’ve got and that is right now in the present. With no regard for a past that doesn’t exist and no plans to hedge your joy on a future that may never come to be. At least, in this reality that is. Time doesn’t exist. It’s not a thing. Keep telling yourself that time doesn’t exist and watch how it changes your outlook on the world. Also, don’t forget to buy me a drink! That’s it, I’m done, you can get off the toilet now.