Saturday, June 13, 2020

Echoes from a Country We Have Never Yet Visited

"Time is an illusion, a construct made out of human memory. There's no such thing as the past, the present, or the future. It's all happening now." -Blake Crouch

"He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past." -George Orwell

"But you can't make people listen. They have to come around in their  own time, wondering why the world blew up around them. It can't last." -Ray Bradbury

"They are living in the moment. They are not ashamed of the past; they are not worried about the future. Little children express what they feel, and they are not afraid to love." -Miguel Ruiz

"Let the children come to me. Don't stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. -Jesus of Nazareth

"What has been is what will be and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun." -Qoheleth

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be.“ - Lewis Caroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 

"I am the Alpha and the Omega- the beginning and the end," says the Lord God. I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come- the Almighty One."

I have been reading lately about human concepts of time and perception. I was fascinated to learn that everything we see is nothing more than reflections of light. Since we can calculate the speed of light (186,000 miles per second) we realize that by the time our brain has processed an image, what we perceive is already in the past. While the world around us is tangible and real, our perception of it is never anything more than echoes, reflections, and interpretations.

Our concept of time exists as a way we seem to explain memory and dreams. While we will never escape this delayed present, we nonetheless insist that life is experienced in a linear format. Somewhere in our awake awareness, our nocturnal dreams, our active imagination, and our flashes of deja-vous, our mind finds a foothold to maintain sanity.

You and I agree that a tree is a tree and that the sun is the sun, but we can not know if we perceive those objects in the same form. We share a common language and agreed upon values to each word, and yet our minds form those concepts independently, based upon our own life constructs. Who is to say that your perception of the color green isn't different than my own? Although we've both agreed that that particular wavelength is green, cognitively is it possible that we process it differently?

Does anyone else wonder about these things? 

Perhaps none of us should be so opinionated (pot calling kettle black, here), when we're all struggling to perceive the most basic awareness of our existence in the universe. After all, if the universe is a real, constant, presence... then the only possible disagreements between us are perception based.

And then, enter morality. Error based on ignorance seems innocent enough, but error based on selfish pursuit must surely be evil. Personally, I apply this concept to the issues of our time: global warming, pandemics, civil unrest, immigration, perceptions of racism, etc. Is the source of conflict ignorance, or is there an attempt of manipulation? Our world turns on power and control, even though every human merely longs for happiness. It seems we surely create our own conflict. 

What would it mean to go back to our original form? To perceive the world with the untainted view of a child? I'm not sure? There is merit in the mind of a child that is based on the perspective of living in and enjoying the present. Of course, the child also has that human quality of wanting control, self-gratification, and the ability to manipulate perception to gain what is desired. I suppose it is necessary to parse out the virtue of present-mindedness, apart from the "that is mine give it to me now" mentality that seems as innate as the ability to breathe. 

If only we could use our discernment to accentuate the better angels of our nature. I'm working on reducing my weakness of granting others the power to offend me. I can imagine how much better my life would be if I could view dissenting viewpoints of my own as merely different perspectives of this same real world? Differing thoughts then wouldn't need to be taken so personally. Discernment could be used to determine if our differing perspectives are ignorance based or if one or both of us is seeking to control the other? If our differences are just based on limited knowledge, then we can continue in friendship. However, if our differences stem from something more sinister, well, even then I do not need to be offended. I can simply move on. 

We are all of us on a journey. We are moving in a universe that we cannot truly see. Everything we experience is already passed by the time we perceive it, and it seems that our perception of time as linear is a flawed view even it itself. After all, who can explain time? It is our best theory to explain how we experience this universe. Nothing more. We all know the reality of the things in the past wrecking our present state of mind, and likewise worry about the future can also have immediate effects on today. Our minds are created as image-bearers of the creator, the One who was, who is, and who is to come.

And so then what is this life other than flashes and echoes of deep knowledge inside of us while we navigate our perceptions and interactions? To my fellow humans, we are on the same journey and we are creating these echoes that come back to us from a country we have never yet visited.

"The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. 
For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. . ."- C.S. Lewis,