The nature of time and ‘now’

We all know that we cannot change the past, and the future is yet to come. As a consequence of what happens today, and what happens now, we can alter the course of events happening in the future. But what exactly is “now?” Are we really a sum of our experiences, as Tennyson said, “a part of all that we have met?”

If the philosophical view of eternalism, supported by Einstein’s Theory of Simultaneity, is correct, future and past events are “already there” and there is no objective flow of time. Each of the moments of our lives would be existing right now, in this moment — the first time our parents met, the moment of our death, the first time we fall or fell in love, the beginning and endings of our relationships, our fights with our loved ones, the point when we now know when things went wrong — every moment is currently happening, and yet the only moment we can affect is the present one.

If this viewpoint is correct, it means the future is happening concurrently with the past, only affected by “now.” Does that mean destiny actually exists? Can we change our future if it has already happened?

The idea that each of the moments of our lives, in the past, the present and the future, may be occurring concurrently can make an individual feel as if they have no control. Do any of the individual moments really matter? Right now, the particular moment you are currently living, when compared to your past and future moments, has huge potential, as it is currently happening. However, our ability to appreciate and value this current moment, resides within the mind. Our mindset enables us to appreciate “now.”

We change, we evolve, we become different people, yet on some level we remain the same. Deep within each of us, it is this intangible part of ourselves that remains the same throughout our lives. This essential, yet almost insubstantial quality makes us similar to the rest of humankind and helps us connect to the people in our lives.

Perhaps it is this constant part of ourselves that is really important and actually gives us a connection with each part of ourselves in and out of time. Maybe it is not so important that we change, or that each of our individual selves in each moment in time is different. We are more than a sum of our experiences because of the innermost core of ourselves that remains unchangeable. And maybe by understanding this part of ourselves we can grow to truly value the nature of “now” and its potential.