What would our life be like if we lived in an ever present now?
In one sense we do.
All we ever really have at any one time is now. All the moments of our lives up to this point have slipped away into an irretrievable history of us. They are stored up in the recesses of our memories and can pop up at a moments notice when triggered by a smell or a song. Only this morning I was transported back to a five year boy by a passing thought.
The capacity of our brains to retrieve such detail is utterly immense. Things that you haven’t thought about for decades can pop up without warning as if tossed out like a lottery ball.
I sometimes sit in silence and try to remember things, details of events and places, picture the emotion and feel it, what was I thinking and who was there. Was it sunny or dark and so on, all of these memories are still locked up inside of us somewhere if we can force the lock on the filing cabinet.
That is how I picture my brain, endless rows of grey filing cabinets, four drawers high with countless pieces of information tied into events and moments. Writing these blogs has unlocked so many memories for me, I can be transported in a second through time as I recall people and places, tastes and feelings.
I have watched two very different movies recently. The first was Criminal with Kevin Costner, the second was Embers with a largely non mainstream cast.
Criminal had the personality and memory of a murdered CIA man inserted into a psychopath in order to retrieve vital information. It was all good stuff with the melding of the two together making a better man out of Kevin.
Embers envisioned a post neurological virus where sleep wiped all but essential information from the memory, it was always going to be a difficult concept to pull off as they decided what would be retained i.e. recognition of words, common items, key skills and what would be wiped on a daily basis.
With no future and no past these people existed in a suspended state of now.
This is exactly how the entertainment world would have us exist, knowing nothing of yesterday or tomorrow.
Growing up in church I would listen to the many preachers disdain the current world in favour of the one to come, while themselves living firmly in the romanticised past of some “better day”.
All and none of these are the perfect way to live.
We cannot ignore our history in any sense, we cannot either spend our days in some hazy expectancy of a coming day.
We are alive Now. We must live in the knowledge of the past but with an eye to the future, only then can we be balanced.