I’d never seriously considered time much until today.
Not in any real sense.
Only in the way we all do.
What time is it? What time shall we meet? I’m late. I’m early. I’m on time.
All convenient ways to describe our immediate relationship to the time in which we live.
But they don’t explain time itself.
They don’t remotely begin to explain the complexity and the enormity of those three seemingly simple words – past, present, future.
Of course, until today I wasn’t aware that I hadn’t considered it.
That’s the thing with unknowns. Until you know them, you can’t possibly realise they’re unknown.
And once you know them, they can never again become unknown.
That’s the thing with time too. Once you realise the future is the present, it quickly becomes the past.
What was the future is replaced with another future. Something that, until this present, could never have been the future.
And that future in turn becomes the present. Quickly to become the past.
And on it goes. Relentlessly.
It was the offer of their time machine that sparked my thoughts.
An opportunity to break the shackles of time. To correct past mistakes. To prepare for future surprises.
But when they explained to me I could re-visit the past but that I couldn’t change it, I realised the only way I could shape my present – and therefore my future – was with the knowledge I already had.
I already knew the only past I could ever know. What I knew could never become unknown.
And when they explained to me that any future I visited would be created by my act of visiting it, I realised it was a future but not my future.
What I wanted to know could never be known. The only future I could know was as a result of my present.
I politely declined their offer. They didn’t seem at all surprised. Somehow, I suspect they already knew I would.