Nothing Exists But the Now

What time is it? It’s now. What times is it now? It’s still now. How about now?

Everything is now. Life seems linear. We’re young and then we’re older, and then we’re older yet. Or so it seems. That’s the story we live by. But in reality, the past doesn’t exist and the future doesn’t exist.

I’ve often thought our lives may be like the novel by Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five. In the tale, Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. He continually shifts from one moment in his life to another with no apparent reason. One day he’s a boy, then he finds himself in mid-life, and then he’s a child.

Vonnegut may have been on to something about how we actually live our lives – in a scattershot of time rather than a linear progression. Yesterday, I may have been five. Today I’m in mid-life. The only continuity is now. Right here, now.

When I was a teenager – which may have been yesterday – a friend challenged the notion that we die. He was unconvinced. I said, “Of course we die.”

He shook his head and asked, “Have you died?”

I replied, “Not yet.”

He said, “Then how do you know you’re going to die? You think you’re going to die because people told you you’re going to die, right?”

“Yeah,” I said.

“How do they know you’re going to die?”

“Everybody dies,” I replied.

He laughed. “That’s just what you’ve been told, but you haven’t died. So you don’t know?”

At the time I thought it was a crazy conversation. Yet it haunted me. Now it doesn’t haunt me because I’ve come to see what he meant. All I’ve known is a constant now. I believe in the now, and what’s there to believe in anything else?

 

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