Our slippery understanding of Time.


It’s about time.

Meaning that’s what we’re discussing today.

Hope we have time.

Do you have time?

Is the time right?

Where does the time go?

What time is it?

We think, speak, and ponder time continuously but one wonders just how much we understand about the scientific realities of the physical nature of time.

First up is the commonly held idea that we invented time, meaning it’s simply a way of measuring the passage of reality.

Time exists in and of itself regardless of our understanding or perception of it. It’s real, measurable, and can be affected by other physical entities.

For example, time is affected by velocity. This can be and has been demonstrated.  The most common example is the dual atomic clock experiment. An atomic clock measures time based on the atomic delay of a radioactive material.  It’s one of the most accurate ways to measure time, perhaps the most accurate.

In the experiment, one atomic clock is situated somewhere on the ground. Another is placed in a nearby airplane.  They are synchronized. The plane fly’s around the world and returns. When the clocks are examined the one on the plane will be slightly slower, perhaps only by a few nanoseconds.  But the difference is consistent.


Because the clock on the plane was accelerated to a much faster velocity than the one on the ground.  As the plane clock accelerated, time itself slowed down.

It sounds like magic but it’s a common, demonstrable way of showing how time can be affected.

Time is a real thing, as real as gravity or light. But it’s so fundamental to existence that it’s easy to misunderstand.

Our perception of time is wonky too.  Many people think of the past and future as real things, simply existing in different parts of time.


The future and the past are nothing more than ideas. There is no real future and there is no real past.  This can be very hard to get your head around.

Consider the nature of reality. Reality is the now. The past is nothing more than a memory or record of what was the now. The future is the possibility of what the now may be. There’s nothing more to either of them.

Why is this important?

It’s important to me because when I finally understood the unreal nature of the future and the past, I began the process of trying to live in the now rather than the past or the future.

I had a difficult childhood. There was no real abuse or neglect. But growing up the youngest of five in a poor family in a very small Texas town had it’s difficulties.

Role models were hard to come by.  My parents did their best but they just didn’t have the skills to effectively raise five children.

Because of that history (my past) I tended to limit myself based on what I perceived to be my shortcomings because of my past.

Realizing that the past was nothing more than a memory allowed me to decide who I was.  I was no longer restrained by the imagined forces from my past.  I make my own reality. We all do.

I also used to have a bad habit of living in or for the future. I’d have the vague idea “Everything will be fine once this thing (whatever that may be, a job, money, a partner, etc) happens.

Once I understood that the only time that matters is the now, the real, I was able to make changes in the now to improve my reality.

This may sound heady and fundamental, but it changed my life. Understanding that there is only the now makes it much for precious.

Hope that didn’t take up too much of your time.



The Debt

The Debt

One day they came from a deep blue sky.
Tiny dots that grew to great and shining ships.
Each as big as a city.
Featureless as a faceless silver statue.
Silent. Serene. Terrifying.
They perched hundreds of feet above every major city.
We watched and waited.
Silent. Anxious. Terrified.
The occupants came.
Robed in gray, they came.
They appeared at the government houses.
They came and stood.
And our leaders waited.
They spoke.
“There exists a great debt.”
“We are here to see that the debt is paid”
Our leaders spoke.
“What is this debt?”
They named the debt.
“But we have paid this debt.”
“All has been made right.”
And among the leaders and the people,
Everyone knew this was a lie.
“You have not paid the debt.”
“You do not truly admit the debt.”
“We are here to see that the debt is paid.”
“How can we possibly pay this debt?
Our leaders asked in certain and knowing terror.
They outlined how the debt must be paid.
“It is too much for us!”
“It was too much for them.”
“The children are innocent!”
“They were innocent.”
“It will cause too much pain and suffering!”
“It caused them much pain and suffering.”
Many other exhortations were voiced.
Each was met with the ugly and historical truth.
Then there was nothing to say.
One lone leader spoke in a final plea.
“We accept that we owe this debt. But if we pay it in the way you suggest,
it will cause even more hate and animosity between us.”
“That is true. But it will also result in understanding and perspective, bought by terrible hardship. ”
“Through this, your people of all colors, may begin to heal.”
“And if we don’t?”
“Then there are other debts to be paid.”
Let us hope you do not need to pay them all.”
There was no more to be said.
The arrangements were made.
One year later it began.
In a great nation,
Every person.
Between ten and twenty.
Born with white skin.
Was taken.
Transported far away.
To another great nation.
Where they worked.
Until they died.
After four generations.
They say the debt has been paid.
Now we hope for understanding.
Now we hope for understanding.