Time alignment

Lately, I think I have become past aligned.

One of the in-numerable ways to slice and dice the world is to consider where one’s gaze lies in time. Some people look to the future. They speculate about the future, have all the latest gadgets, follow new research, and perhaps even produce it themselves. Other people look to the past. The answers lie in history, the old ways are often better than the new, and the futurist’s unchecked growth is destroying the world. Some people talk about the ‘now.’ They don’t believe in daydreaming about the future or pining for the past: just live.

I think when I was younger, I was more future aligned. I devoured Beyond 2000 and other shows about upcoming technology, dreamed of giant robots, and took to the emerging home computers. Sometime after college I started drifting the other. To a large extent I think it was a growing environmental consciousness. Suddenly the new technology was fraught with dangers, and many of the triumphs of the past had side effects that were only now being uncovered. Embracing the future didn’t seem like such a safe bet any more.

Does this matter? I think it might, for symbolic reasons: Life grows; it assimilates it’s environment (changing it in the process), it evolves, strives, expands, acts as a generative force. Death decays; it ceases activity, stagnates, decomposes into the base elements from which it arose. Death is past aligned, and what I fear is that by being too far past aligned, I’m being cut off from the vital force. Of course a little reflection on the predator-prey model will tell you that neither extreme is sustainable; I think that I don’t so much need to become a futurist as find a better balance.

A somewhat related note was sound by one of my recent audio books, The Time Traveler’s Wife. To a large extent I think that fantastic element of time travel could be removed, leaving a story of a relationship where the husband is disappears for uncertain periods of time for more mundane reasons. The theme of ‘time travel’ becomes the moral of the story however; there is a very explicit admonition not to live in the past or waste time waiting for some future event to come down upon you. The time traveler also describes how he is unable to change the past, and the future always feels unsubstantial – only in the present can he exercise free will.

One Comment

  1. flower76 says:

    I read that book. Jason got it for me. I liked it quite a bit. No deep review of it, though. :)