Past, Present, and Future

Time is not a thing, thus nothing which is, and yet it remains constant in its passing away without being something temporal like the beings in time.” ~ Martin Heidegger

Time is not a thing we can grasp or manage. It cannot be stopped or stored. We can only live in it – moment by moment. 

The past has already happened and is unchangeable. It remains in our memories and recollections. The future has yet to happen and hence, remains uncertain. The present is all we can experience – right here, right now. 

It is common to think that our present is shaped by our past, and similarly, our future will be shaped by our present.  However, consider these propositions by Werner Erhard, founder of est:-

  1. The past has nothing to do with who you are in the present.
  2. Who you are in the present is given by the future into which you are living.
  3. If it is true that the future into which you are living gives you being and action in the present, and if you put the past into the future, it will appear as though who you are in the present is given by the past.

Erhard is a friend of Richard Feynman, whose quote was the only one that remained on Feynman’s blackboard when he died. The quote was: “There are certain things you can only know by creating them for yourself.”  He is inviting us to try on the idea that our being and action in the present is given by the future into which we are living rather than coming from the past.  So, if we stop projecting our past into the future, the future is simply a field of possibilities, unconstrained by our past. 

When we create a new future for ourselves, our current circumstances don’t change.  They are still the same as before, but we are now put onto a different trajectory that is unfolding toward the future into which we are living. 

Q: What is the future you are living into?

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”  ~ Soren Kierkegaard