The Future is Where We Shall All Be, Someday

“We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember, my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future” — Plan 9 from Outer Space by Ed Wood

Imagine the future. It is going to be glorious. The future is just a few days away and I know it is going to fantastic. For one thing in the future, there are going to be exploding monsters, resurrected pop stars from the 1960s, the Roman empire, and Jurassic era insects. I am imagining the future when we will all be living in caves with spiders and cryogenically frozen brains. It will be a glorious day, the future.

What do you imagine when you think about the future? Is it a space that you can inhabit in your imagination? How do we take our three-dimensional brains and even attempt to project into the future? It is a super complex problem and it seems like you would just be like, well I am going to think about it and that is how I will deal with the future. But when you think about what the future is and begin to really analyze the idea of a future you will see that there is no future.

It is a space in your imagination and it really is something that you are projecting right now as if it were now. That doesn’t’ mean that the future doesn’t exist, only that the future, the present, and the past are all expressions of the same basic sense of being. It goes back to the idea if a tree falls in a forest does anyone hear it? Not quite like that but as well as we can understand it there is no time, only a rearrangement of atoms within the physical space of the universe, constantly turning itself over and over, the motions of the universe.

It is hard to explain what time is not, how can we imagine a future without understanding the nature of time, but if you think about it, it isn’t that hard to see. Imagine this, say by some accident we destroyed ourselves through our own technological folly, or even through some simple act of nature such as an asteroid destroying most life on earth. If that happened then there wouldn’t really be a future, at least not for human beings, so the idea of time and geological history wouldn’t exist really anymore. Does that mean that for all of material existence it wouldn’t exist anymore, of course not, it would still exist but without an interpreter to give it meaning then how can it exist? The very use of language and the reference of language to understand the material world is in and of itself a construction.

So, our filters of the material world are gatekeepers that shape how we understand everything about the manifest universe. Am I starting to sound like a cult? I hope to not steer you, dear reader, in that direction. I am the last person to want you to ever join a cult or follow a sound method of thinking that leads to the intellectual weakness of a cult.

So what is my point anyway, my point is that you can’t even begin to talk about the future until you reconstruct your experience of the actual physical universe with your intellectual understanding of it. The filter of your brain that the universe passes through when it reaches your senses and the grey matter of your brain where all that imagery is deconstructed and reconstructed is where it all happens.

In a way what I am saying is that there is no filter between the self, the universe, and time. There is no time. It is paradox, at least it seems like a paradox to me, and it also sounds like something crazy you would read on Facebook. Everyone knows there is time, you know time heals all wounds, a stitch in time. We all understand geological time, we also understand time fractions and time out if you have been bad. So we know there is such a thing as time, but if you don’t mind reading someone who is saying crazy things then just imagine for a minute that there is no time. That massive brain of yours that is processing all this information can do that. In fact, take that filter of your brain and put it to this hypothetical question-

If there is no time then what does that mean about every human culture that has ever existed, and most importantly what does it mean about the future? I will start with the future since that is where we will all be someday, in the future as Ed Wood said. In the past are the billions of generations of the ancestors. Those were the people who talked and had a conversation with each other and decide to eff and then there was a baby. Each baby is another one of those hundreds of billions of people that have existed in history, aka time, but that thread of time runs right through our own timeline because we are all caught up in this spinning movement of the earth and we are bits and pieces of that flow of debris, the water, the rock, the sunlight, the motion of all this material body has manifested us. That is time, but it is hard to see it.

We are definitely on a path and unfolding each one of us in the same second, but time is a creation of our imagination. It is a way for us to construct and understand a complex universal process that is all happening at once and we can’t contain any of it, not a single bit. The motion that we imagine the universe dropping into is not a discrete form that can be contained or explained or analyzed. It is a flow from its birth to its infinite expansion into nothingness or its containment back into itself is one breath, it is one flow, and trying to parse it into segments does as little to describe it as trying to describe it. Both sets of identification are filters of words through brains. Our unpacking and explaining the universe is really about us explaining ourselves.

We are in a quandary and we should be, or at least I am in a quandary, I don’t know about you. We have missed out on everything happening in the universe. It kind of feels like showing up at the party after it is almost over. That is not to say that anything is almost over, it is really only just beginning. I can say this about the species for certain, we are wholly incomplete and seemingly incapable of dealing with the profound set of expectations that comes from trying to analyze and dissect the universe, but that is exactly what we do, and that is what we are doing.

It seems to me that we are alone. The party we call the universe has been going on for what we understand as 15 billion years, but that is just a containing word. To say that the universe is any time at all disrespects what time really is, that is to say, time is nothing and time is everything. If the universe is really full of so many billions of galaxies, one hundred and twenty-five billion to be exact. that looks like this 125,000,000,000. That is just one universe. within that universe there are an average of 100 billion stars per galaxy, that is 100,000,000,000 so if there are one hundred billion stars and 125 billion galaxies then that is 10 to the 24 power of stars in the universe, or 125,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. That is 125 million trillion stars.

Scientists estimate that there are about as many stars in the universe as there are grains of sand on the entire earth, so, you would think that with 125 million trillion stars there would be life elsewhere in the universe. There may be but we don’t know about it at all. Let’s just say we were being observed by some other form of intelligence, surely they would know a little bit something about evolution, they would have seen our development and understood at some point we would evolve into something.

It is getting so start trek here. I’m just going to say that if there is other life out there it is going to make itself known somehow, that is just, it seems to be something life will do when it recognizes itself replicated. I think the answer which is much more likely is that the conditions that led to our existence were probably as rare and unusual as the universe is vast.

So what is the point of this meandering, incomprehensible essay? The universe is vast, it isn’t just vast, it is really almost incomprehensible, not that we can’t understand it, we will, but it isn’t what we think. the universe is already changing us, and it is changing us fast. We want to know if there is life in the universe, but our ability to decode and draw inferences from vast amounts of data is already snowballing into some pretty obvious conclusions — if there is life out there it is probably extremely rare.

So the universe is vast, and life is extremely rare at least as we understand it. Also, there is no such thing as time, it is a construction, an observation, it is our way of understanding change, the change of motion in the universe. Finally, everything we experience about reality is a filter, it is a filter we understand through our own brain, and in order to understand and see the universe more realistically and see time realistically, we should start by looking at our own brain and our culture, the assumptions that have gotten us to this place. That’s mostly what I wanted to say this morning. if you read this far thanks for taking out time to share some of my odd mind.


Anna Thompson is a writer, artist and cat lover who lives in Portland Oregon with her partner and six cats. She loves writing about sex, gender and religion.

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