Turning My Back to the Future.

The title of this entry is paradoxical to say the least, how could the future that unknown distant point ever be here. By chronological definition the future is always that unknown point after the present. Unlike the past it has no place in our mind other than what we can purely speculate, like the past it occurs in the same place in our mind’s eye. When we try to relate to the future we construct our thoughts around it like we do the past. In fact we can only truly relate to the future by constructing memories, like how we place ourselves within our minds eye in a past moment in time by taking the information we can readily recall and assuming the rest. Our memory itself is imperfect, our brains being the organ they are do retain the majority of information they perceive via the course of our lives but they are incapable of totally reconstructing the past. Our minds will readily make up for these inaccuracies, a tree here a person there. Like how when we dream and you are aware of the information of what is occurring, the experiential but not the fact. Like a dream you are not entirely sure that this or that has happened, but the mind has no choice but to go on this available data. The future is like a dream, it is a constructed reality, something that is not real but is.

The act of mental time travel is known as Chronesthesia, this is not some hokey paranormal activity it is a function of the human and animal mind that allows us to anticipate future events and reconstruct past ones. These constructs are never entirely accurate but they often come close enough, and if they come close enough then the present an evolutionary advantage. Many species perceive time in this way, but none is more honed then the Human ability. Is this due to superior intelligence? I think not. Could it be that what we actively perceive as greater awareness of chronological perception is also what we interoperate as greater intelligence? What the hell is intelligence anyway?  It is easy to speculate in evolutionary terms about what may occur, you’re either wrong or right and at the end it did not really matter. If we are capable of constructing the past and the future within the same cognitive ability, then the two things as far as our mind is concerned in the present moment are the same things.

The Past never happened, it was only a memory.

The Present, is the past that we remember as it occurs.

The Future has not happened yet and never will.

We are alive for a very short period in a cosmic scale. After we die we are gone forever, back to the place we were before we ever existed. What are you memories of your childhood? Surely you remember that time you broke the plate in the kitchen or was it something you saw on TV as a kid? Do remember all the names of your stuffed animals or has your mind given the names since because you feel they should have them?  Do you remember the face of the older child who made your life a living hell or has the memory of their face been twisted and contorted to demonic proportions in the water damage filling cabinet of your mind? What about that movie you saw that you knew you were not meant to see? Do you remember what you had for lunch this time last week?  Or was that someone else?

When I was young, I was out in Gourtnagoona Co. Tippereary with my dad, near Templederry. We used to visit my uncles a lot back then, every weekend nearly; they ran a farm along the side of the road in a very mountainous region. After a day of walking through fields and tempting fate getting past electric fence after electric fence they both paused before we went into the house for the evening. I looked up at them and what seemed like there infinite tallness as they gaped open mouth looking at the black empty abyss of the sky above. I looked at it too. I saw a light moving across the sky, something I had never seen or noticed before. Like a star only more solid and moving.

I asked “Dad what’s that?”

My father looked at my uncle and said “That looks like a UFO, doesn’t it Paddy?”

Paddy said “it does Willy.”

Years later I recalled this memory to a flat mate of mine who asked had I ever heard of False Memory syndrome? False memory syndrome (FMS) describes a condition in which a person’s identity and relationships are affected by memories which are factually incorrect but are strongly believed. This got me thinking about that particular memory and why I believed it occurred. Even being the staunch skeptic I was at the time and as I saw it not falling prey to superstition and paranoia, I kept a small little place for this memory tucked away. Why did I believe it? Why did I give it strength, why didn’t I put two and two together and also recall that I watched a lot of conspiracy theory documentaries at this time and was an avid X-Files fan. Or why didn’t I remember that I spent a lot of time hiding under the bed sheets afraid of being abducted by aliens. Our thoughts and often our actions are at the whim of emotion and sentimentality and are untrustworthy. Only now I know better right? My point is if what we assume has happened can be so subject to the ebb and flow of our present mental process and if our perception of the future works via the same mental ability. Then why should we put so much stock in the act of Speculating when it is inherently flawed?

Talking about the future is not the same as the future. What may happen is unknown, truly. But discussion about what we think may happen characterizes who we are here and now more than what we actually assume we know about ourselves. Our hopes and our aspirations exist in a fictional land, the future is as unreal as a dream but like dreams it can function to explain more about ourselves than we already know. Whether it’s a dystopia, utopia or other the world of tomorrow exists only today in its depiction. And what tomorrow can characterize I can only speculate.

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