Raina’s Fantastic Ramblings: What does Time mean?

Time. I said I’d write about time.

And what does that even mean?

What does Time mean?

Well, I was talking about Goodness being final and happiness being real, no matter the “ending,” and that I couldn’t see a real distinction between that and the ultimate/final/primal I-NEED-A-WORD-THAT-DOES-NOT-HAVE-CONNOTATIONS-ABOUT-TIME-OR-BEGINNINGS-OR-ENDINGS, and I know that ETERNITY won’t do at all. Oh no. Not at all.

I expect a lot of people to get lost here, since it seems for some reason concepts about time that I have no trouble with are incomprehensible or nonsensical to most people. But my first childhood monster I remember had to do some notions about the future affecting the past in some really odd ways. So I’ve never really believed in linear time the way most people assume it to be. No, my parents didn’t expose me to sci-fi notions at that age. So either I came up with it more or less on my own or the future does affect the past, but we might as well not explore that possibility, because, whether it is true or not, it renders certain questions completely impossible to talk about it. So if it is relevant, it is relevant only for deciding whether or not certain questions should even be asked.

But what does any of this have to do with my understanding about What-I-Can’t-Call-Eternity?

I could just call it The Real.

Haha. But one of my fantasy species (except they don’t fit the definition of species) are called the Ellenari, and for them time is very different. The simplest part of it is that what is future for them may be past to the Time-born, while something else that is past to the Time-born may also be … here it gets not so simple … present to them. They have no past. There are experiences, facets of who and what they are, that are future to them, but no past. They have an ever-expanding present. They do, they are, they think, and the object of all that can be more numerous and expansive than it is possible for human memory or experience to comprehend, but none of it fades into the past, to be memory, however perfect or infallible that memory. It is active now. (It offers some really interesting possibilities to explore.)

Okay. So now that I have finished establishing that I am weird. I don’t think I can expect my readers to make an intuitive leap and understand how this has anything to do with … other things.

Well, just step back for a moment.

We experience Time as a succession of moments in which mostly (we think) there is a set order in which they affect each other, with the ones that cause the effects no longer being real to us, but we have some knowledge of them, and the ones about to be effected not being real to us, and we don’t really know anything about them, we just make predictions. That’s how we experience life.

But if the source of life/time/experience doesn’t correlate to our understandings of beginnings and ends, of causes and effects, and the past and the future and what has been and what is not yet? If beginnings and endings as we imagine them are more an illusion of our particular mode of perception than a fundamental fact of even our existence? Not that they are all illusion or there is nothing to them: after all they are our experience, and as such, they have some reality in being grounded in and given form to who we are.

But what if they’re not really beginning or end? What if who we are, what if “the real,” the ultimate “Is,” is about the most fundamental, the deepest, truest part of our life, our choice, our will, our experience, who we are, not a point that we call the end – or beginning?

Maybe somebody reading this will have an inkling as to why it’s philosophically and conceptually impossible for me to conceive of happiness or goodness as having/being the fundamental value, no matter how things get or end, and well – I don’t know, considering life/existence/being/happiness/goodness to have an end?

Or maybe you all will just think I am weird.

And … just in case anyone thinks this is a case for that Roman Catholic notion that after death you can’t grow or change, your love can’t grow, or your experience of glory or whatever it is … this absolutely is NOT that. It just occurred to me putting my thoughts into words that it might seem like that to some people, but it’s not. I absolutely detest that doctrine, and if that’s what you got from these ramblings, you didn’t understand them. And there’s probably a million other ways to misunderstand them, and hopefully this is more helpful than hurtful!

Either way, as hard as it is for most people to grasp the way I think about time, it’s probably that hard at least for me to differentiate the ideas of Happiness is real/Goodness matters, etc, etc, from “Happiness and Goodness are eternal.” I won’t say that the way I think about time is the only reason I can’t manage the separation, but it does provide one angle from which to view it (or that it’s the primary reason either; though I begin to think discussing whether it is or is not is one of those questions that might have no meaning if you actually know what you’re talking about). But to me those two statements are synonymous – that something is real or matters no matter what, and that it is “eternal”. They mean absolutely the same thing.

But just to be really clear and wrap things up in a way that might make sense to most people, or at least not be too confusing: my notion about love and happiness being real and mattering no matter how pain or worldly failure or tragedy is involved has NOTHING AT ALL to do with the notion of hell as punishment/heaven as reward. That whole idea about good things now or bad things later/bad things now or good things later. No, not at all. What does some sort of future suffering or bliss, no matter how interminable and long it’s supposed to be, have anything at all to do with the present experience of suffering or joy? Nothing at all, because what’s real, the present is, and duration is more an illusion than anything else; what does the future really mean to anyone when you actually feel something, anything? At any rate, it doesn’t exist to me and means nothing to me. And duration isn’t anything either. Experience is its own infinity. No, it has to be something that’s fundamentally real, not that depends on a future.

PS. My spirituality isn’t as impersonal as all this, but it’s probably just as hard – or even harder – to talk about, and maybe more private, and besides, this is about how I think, and of course the two are related, but in case anyone was wondering, I just wanted to clear that up.

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