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Friday, October 12, 2018

Microstory 950: Time and Eternity

Time is one of the most abstract concepts in the universe, but also the very most important. Then again, I suppose it’s tied for the number one spot with the four fundamental forces, none of which really gets the credit it deserves. Time allows us to get things done, remember our past, plan for the future, and to experience the glory of life. If you’ve even read just a little bit of my website, you know that time travel is my biggest trope. That’s ironic, because when I was just getting started as a writer, I had a rule against time travel. And I had that rule because I firmly believe that time travel is completely impossible. There are no parallel timelines, no alternate realities, no temporal paradoxes; there’s only the now. Whatever happened, happened, and could not have happened any other way, because it’s what happened, and that’s that. Sorry if that’s not good enough. Though my fictional stories do not always effectively reflect my beliefs about cause, effect, and the indeterminacy of the future, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a bit of wriggle room. What really matters to us, in practical terms, is how we perceive that time. There are definitely those who experience time differently than others. Professional baseball players, for instance, must have the ability to slow the passage of time in their own minds, or they would not be able to hit those fast-moving pitches. I mean, seriously, if that’s not a superpower, than I don’t know what is. I’ve always been fascinated with this concept; the possibility that, though it’s impossible to add more time to our dimension, maybe it’s possible to be more productive by operating at a higher rate. Try this experiment. Sit at your computer, and type on the keyboard as quickly as you can. Don’t try to type any sentences, or words; just type. Wow, that was fast, right? You’re moving at least twice as fast—or more—as you do when you need to be comprehensible. So there’s not a very strong physical limitation to typing, unless that is, you have a diagnosable limitation. Otherwise, what really stops us is the speed at which we process information. Excellent typists, like office administrators, also have superhuman powers, because they’re capable of processing information much faster than the rest of us. That’s right, humble CEO, your secretary is literally a genius. So maybe we can exploit this skill, and reapply it to a more general understanding of the world around us. There is never enough time in a day, or in a lifetime, so we have to make the absolute most out of it before it’s over. Fortunately, time itself is showing no real signs of stopping, yet we are showing signs of extending our lives within it. I can’t wait.

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