The Persistence Of Memory (Salvador Dali, 1931)

I’ve been thinking lately about my life and the past, present and possible future ways.  I have a past that is certain and has already been – something I can never change, but something I can draw on in almost infinite ways to make decisions in the present and possibly shape the future. My past is certainly finite in the perspective of time, but to my mind it has enormous subtlety, shades of grey, variation in color and nuances that transcend the limitation of time. I don’t wish to stray off focus and when I try to understand this with with some personal tales of my life grounded in reality, it doesn’t seem work philosophically. I find myself unable to make a solid point of reference for any of the events. The past can seem almost like a story I was told and didn’t really happen to me personally. The future in a similar way is a story, one that has not been written yet.  I view the past and future through these stories or experiences, and it is based on how my life has developed or will develop in time. I always believed that what I think can be full of infinite possibilities in past or future ways even though the events that shaped the past are fully formed and those in the future unformed. It does get a bit philosophically complicated. Past, Present and Future Ways seemed fluid to me in limitless resources, but I am not so sure anymore. It’s a Cold Fact that maybe Past is Past, Present is Present and Future is Future!

I still wonder on myself (and my relationship to people in the past) and that never changes (or does it?), but the Past, Present and Future Ways seem to be an enigma in the Reality of Time. It is like something you can feel, but never touch. The invisible wings of a butterfly floating in the air, always there but never seen, listened to and felt, but never fully realized. Are the fragments of these tapestries connecting Past, Present and Future Ways the same threads or just separate weaves of a similar pattern? And yet there should be nothing special about ‘now’, the present, no more so than the past or future! There really is none from a physics perspective and time is just a dynamical variable of the 4-dimensional spacetime continuum, but there is a sense that there is a difference between the physics conception of time and the philosophical conception of time. From a philosophical perspective the present is special and perhaps neither the past nor future exist. Time just flows or passes from one moment to the next and yet there is still a distinction between the past and future. This is all a matter of subjective (what comes from us) and objective (the physical world) observation I suppose. Ultimately, time seems to be something everyone understands until you try to describe it. It has been said that maybe time is just natures way of making sure not everything happens at all once – Now there’s a thought!


I’m not entirely sure what I was hoping to discover here and just something I have been thinking about in terms of my life. It may be a topic I will have to return to in understanding it better. I discussed time a bit in a previous blog too entitled (See: “What is Time?“) a couple of years ago. Time is indeed one of the mysterious aspects of nature! For now I will end with few quotations in thought towards the discussion and perhaps pick up the topic yet again at another Time:

“We know that the ancestor of every action is a thought.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (Essays: First Series, ‘Spiritial Laws’, 1841) Reference:

“We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” ~ Anais Nin
(Reference: Usually attributed to Anais Nin, but without a cited source, and  sometimes from the Jewish Talmud, also without any cited verse or passage.)

“For what is time? Who can easily and briefly explain it? Who even in thought can comprehend it, even to the pronouncing of a word concerning it? But what in speaking do we refer to more familiarly and knowingly than time? And certainly we understand when we speak of it; we understand also when we hear it spoken of by another. What, then, is time? If no one ask of me, I know; if I wish to explain to him who asks, I know not. Yet I say with confidence, that I know that if nothing passed away, there would not be past time; and if nothing were coming, there would not be future time; and if nothing were, there would not be present time. Those two times, therefore, past and future, how are they, when even the past now is not; and the future is not as yet? But should the present be always present, and should it not pass into time past, time truly it could not be, but eternity. If, then, time present — if it be time — only comes into existence because it passes into time past, how do we say that even this is, whose cause of being is that it shall not be — namely, so that we cannot truly say that time is, unless because it tends not to be?” ~ Augustine of Hippo, Confessiones lib xi, cap xiv, sec 17 (ca. 400 CE)