The Metaphysics of Time

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An old pocketwatch, laying on a wooden table, showing the current time.

“Glance into the world just as though time were gone: and everything crooked will become straight to you.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Index

  1. ) Introduction
  2. ) Caged birds
  3. ) Stuck on repeat
  4. ) The ultimate reality
  5. ) Systematic reconciliation
  6. ) Conclusion

Introduction

I can’t quite put my finger on it, yet it seems alluring beyond belief. This strange phenomenon called time. Its unheard-of exuberance; its immeasurable heights. A multitude of eventualities and possibilities far surpassing those of our physical realms. At times I find myself lost in its tender arms. Tightly embraced, lulled into a state of blissful wholeness. Neither bound by false idealism, nor the trifling matters of everyday life. Simply floating somewhere between the ever-growing depths of my past and the constantly diminishing horizon of my future, as I am gradually becoming who I am. Humanities downtrodden path – the rite of passage for centuries to come.

Caged birds

We are all bound by the same fate. A promising, yet at times ominous interplay between the stages of experiences long gone and the personal foreshadowings of distant interludes. Pieces from memory lane – picked up, reforged and projected into the so-called future. An undertaking akin to tossing a stone across a lake and expectantly looking forward at how many times it bounces off its surface. Time remains the same, irrespective of its point of origin. Its trajectory already predetermined – a fleeting, predominantly elusive, gust of wind amidst a steady stream of influences. Some novel, yet most recurring – doomed to repeat themselves, if subject to careful examination, that is. Our very existence itself hinges on a thin thread; a red-line, tightly interwoven into a dynamic structure of space and time. Its pattern ambiguous and non-linear, open to crossfire – that is interpretation. You see, life, just as time, can only be described by twisting its very roots. We humans appear to thrive on deforming and trying to fix the very structure of our reality, as we see fit, so as to create predictions and outcomes of a process, which is in-and-out of itself without comparison. By constructing feeble structures and rigid architectures, in order to try to get a little grip on reality, we are simply changing perspectives but miss the whole point entirely. For there is no definite goal. No grand finale at the end of our life (however you want to define it – which in itself constitutes the causa prima of all that is essentially null and void), yet we appear to be bound by an illusory element of everyday life – time.

Stuck on repeat

We humans tend to define others, as well as ourselves, by a plethora of (primarily subconscious) models. The very essence of knowledge – an integrated approach towards accumulating experience – is akin to a castle of sand. A building atop a foundation, which gets smaller, the higher it has been built, since the amount of knowledge, one can accumulate during their life is finite, and gets more specialized, the farther one ventures into a certain area of interest. It is always being subject to change by external influences – a dynamic interplay, so to speak. New approaches, which challenge our existing paradigms, are like the unforgiving elements. Forces beyond our control, which loom over our self-constructed arrangement of sand and threaten to tear it down without further notice. Amidst such unpredictable influences, we are more often than not prone to cling onto outdated models of belief – missing the opportunity to transcend our former shell of a self and staying mistakenly put. At times the castle itself is being predestined to fail, since certain bricks have been layered incorrectly – threatening the whole construct from within. “Time”, or the very thought of a force, which is neither intrinsic, nor extrinsic, but permeates every facet of our being, is fundamentally flawed.

It is but another system, which allows us to at least approximate something resembling a coherent representation of a fragment of reality and should henceforth be only treated as such. A simple outline about existence, nothing more, nothing less. Upon closer observation, though, its most peculiar deficiency becomes painstakingly clear: Existence itself can not be constrained. It is a fool’s errand to try to get hold of something, which Is fundamentally non-definable. By putting a label on time, something which is in essence but a figment of our mind, we are simply living out an illusion. A sham – one that we are pitifully unaware of.

Seeing that the very notion of time is fundamentally flawed, one can easily deduct that concepts, such as “past” or “future” are equally erroneous. For “past” as well as “future” are both sides of one coin – awry concepts, brought about by humanities’ innate drive towards making sense of the world. By means of aggrandizing a sparkling finale in the form of a blissful and better future, one has essential given up on life itself. Constrained by shackles of the past, fixated on a specific set of new locks in the future, the so-called individual has become a shell of what it once was – free. It is simply being cast into yet another made-up arrangement of an imaginary ideal – one’s self-created juggernaut. Bound to bring about one’s own demise, yet hidden and nowhere to be found. Unbeknownst to its respective creator, its influence pertains to every shard of our being. Most of us succumb to its life-negating whims, for we are being led astray by suffocating idealism, impatience and ultimately a wrong sense of determination. The resulting personification by the very act of self-confinement has effectively reached an impasse, the moment it has been defined, since one aspires to be something – that is, one is de facto not realizing that they are living out the schema of a certain predetermined outcome, brought upon by their own fabricated expectation of a higher ground. Life at the hands of father time has been reduced to a mere dream; nice to look at, and to indulge in, but par principle hollow inside. By living out one such shard, one’s behaviour has become the marionette of their own delusions. Their very existence has been subjugated to an impersonation. A perilous way of living, for it is utterly bereft of life. Transformation, dynamics, and fluidity, in short: the closest we can get to describing existence without subjecting it to just another faulty misconception, which could not remotely do it justice, have been abandoned. Going into further detail, one such person can be hardly described as an individual, since their true self is being hidden beneath a thick layer of dead wood. Said way of living comes with a steep price to pay, for its respective executioner will never come to realize their true potential. It is a mere façade – one that is unfortunately being put up way too often.

The ultimate reality

Albeit the outlook has been quite gloomy thus far, there is hope to be found. Seeing that neither future nor past are the answer to this fundamental problem, one has to wonder what they forgot. Or rather, one shan’t try to remember, for that would immediately set themselves back to the past. There is, however, one principal way of living, which has been seemingly lost by many, due to them being anchored too tightly to either the past, or the future: the present. Reality itself can only happen right now. The very act of existence is unfolding itself during every passing sensation, as unseemly as it might appear. Yet modern man has been led astray by a multitude of extraneous distractions. By living out this fundamental lie, one is but chasing an imaginary ideal. We are planning for worse times, or a better future, but what we are really doing, is losing ourselves in possible outcomes. We do it all the time. See what I did there?

Whenever we feel like we have achieved something, we are quick to hurry onto the next big thing. The enjoyment of the present is being constantly overshadowed by the projected brighter future. We have essentially become numb, and we are not even aware of it. Looking forward to things does naught but tarnish the present. It comes as no surprise that depression and mental maladies in general have been on the rise for the past years. We are chasing happiness  – something which can never be grasped. In doing so, we are not experiencing it. We have abandoned life itself, which can only be experienced by means of total immersion in the present, and have instead turned to chasing all sorts of outward mirages. Stimuli, which offer but a fleeting sense of relief from the wild goose hunt. Thus, we have essentially become blind and oblivious to the fact that the golden goose lies within. That is, something which cannot be consciously – forcibly, if you will – perceived, lies dormant within us, but we have yet to realize it. I will go into further detail in another post, but right now it is important to comprehend that our defined boundaries that are brought about by memories of the past, which get basically rehashed and distorted, in order to project the ideal outcome of the future, are what’s preventing us from experiencing life.

Systematic reconciliation

With that being said, society itself has been built around the idea of time. We are surrounded by this seemingly inescapable concept. By trying to get a grip on life, we have essentially denied ourselves the very pleasure of being, which makes us wonder, how we are to cope with this fundamental phantasmagoria. Whilst preparing for the future may certainly be more advantageous than being confined to the rusty cages of one’s past, there has yet to be another option, which reconciles the best of both worlds, so to speak. As of right now, I will keep said pieces of advice concise, since I do not wish to digress too much. I will, however, pay them more heed in a future post.

For the time being, the most rational approach would be to devise a rough outline of the best conceivable future. It does not necessarily need to be one, which your current context perceives as worth striving for, but rather one, which you, as an individual, would be happy to experience for a prolonged period of time. Whilst you are actually acting on something, you should forget your plans and simply be in this moment. For, if you are wandering, your focus suffers, which in turn diminishes the quality of your current undertaking. You are henceforth not tapping into your inner hidden potential, which will only come into fruition, if you are truly immersed in what you are doing right now.

Since society and existence themselves depend on social interaction, it would be best, to pay attention to your surroundings. The people, the environment as well as the pieces of information, which you absorb day in and day out, are especially important. Everything plays together, which is, why I’d advise you to be especially selective of the people that you surround yourself with. Whilst I am a big advocate of getting to know a lot of people, since everybody has something to teach you, I would dare say that most homo sapiens are not contributive towards your self-actualization.

If you constantly and voluntarily expose yourself to people, who gossip, indulge in nothing but small-talk and are generally not interested in essentially becoming who they are (i.e. tapping into their inner potential), then you will remain the same and stay mediocre at best, turn rogue at worst. We are basically the average of the 5 people that we hang out with for the most time. It is therefore of utmost importance to truly get to know others, before you decide to confide in them, respectively call them your friends.

Keeping that in mind, I would also suggest, avoiding short-term gratification as best as you can. Reality-TV, shallow literature and fast food are detrimental to your overall well-being and will keep you dim-witted. By indulging in superficial stimuli, you will become but a puppet. A mere marionette, who simply awaits its next fix, as it is unable to think for itself and accepts whatever mainstream media decides to dish out today. By doing so you are essentially dead. Whilst mobile phones and technology in general have their uses, they tend to get easily into our way. Constantly checking your new messages, e-mails and looking at social media is one way to deliberately let your life fade away and become yet another insignificant dopamine junkie.

Conclusion

As far as time goes, it is in essence an awry concept, yet society is based on it. As of right now, the majority of people does not get paid by performance, but rather by how much time they spend at a given task. Future generations will have to take up the torch and hopefully do away with said determinant of our everyday life and find a more humane substitution. As of right now, the task of realizing that said model is but a mirage, is that of an individual. By being immersed in the workload at hand, whilst reducing extraneous influences, and paying more mind to how one generally uses their day, time becomes basically obsolete. Only by genuine immersion into the experiencable, one will eventually experience a state called flow, where they truly understand, what it means to live. To simply be, without any sort of superficial, self-imposed boundaries, by the likes of time. That is, one actually starts to be alive in its truest sense.

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